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19 1 6. 



The Russian Offensive of 1916 : First Phase ... ... ... ... ... 1 

The Battle of Verdun (III.) ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 41 

Austrian Offensive of May, 1910, in the Trentino : Italian Politics ... 81 

The Battle of Jutland Bank ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 121 

The Western Front in May and June, 1916 ... ... ... ... ... 161 

The Work of the Y.M.C.A 179 


The Russian Offensive of 1916: Second Phase ... ... ... ... ... 201 

The Medical Service of the Royal Saw ... ... ... ... ... ... 241 


The Senussi and Western Egypt ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 281 


The Intervention of Portugal ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 321 

Germany's Second Year of War ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 361 

Operations Xorth of the Pripet Marshes : Summer, 1916 ... ... ... 391 

The Intervention of Rumania 401 

The Law and Enemy Trading ' 441 

The Battle of the Somme (I.) ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 477 




Results of the Austro -German Advance in 1915 — The Russian " Offensive " of March, 
1916 — Russian Objects and German Exaggerations — Preparation for the Great Russian 
Offensive — Analysis of Positions and Strengths — The Russian Commanders Described — 
The Germans and Austrians — Austrian Confidence — Luxury in the Field — The Strategic 
Problem — Russia Strikes — Analysis of the First Three Weeks — Austrian Line Broken — 
Fall of Lutsk — and Dubno — Kaledin's Success — The East-Galician Front — The Bukovina 
— Fall of Czernovitz — Dramatic Account of the Evacuation — Conquest of the Bukovina. 

THE great Austro -German advance of 
1915 had stopped without having 
achieved its strategic object. It 
had not attained the line on which 
the initiative for further operations would have 
rested exclusively with the Central Powers.* 
East of the Niemen and the Bug the Germanic 
armies had occupied the main strategic centre 
of Vilna and the important railway junctions 
of Baranovitehe and Kovel ; in the south they 
had advanced their front to the line of the Ikva 
and Strypa ; and on the right bank of the 
Dniester they had advanced almost to the very 
frontier of Bessarabia. Yet our Allies had 
retained in the north the line of the Dvina 
with Riga and Dvinsk, the railway junctions 
of Molodetchna and Minsk, the railway across 
the Pripet Marshes, the strategic centre of 
Rovno — which occupied in the region south 
of the Pripet Marshes a position analogous 
to that of Vilna in the northern districts 
— and a considerable tract of East Galicia, 
which in view of its highly developed net of 
roads and railways formed a useful base for 
future Russian operations. Thus, on the stra- 
tegic line separating Inner Russia from the 

* For a detailed analysis of that line cf. Vol. VII., 
Chapter CX., especially pp. 81-82. 
Vol. IX.— Part 105. 

outlying Lithuanian, White Russian and Polish 
provinces, the relative position of the opposing 
forces with regard to the next campaign 
remained one of even balance. 

It was now the main task of the Russian 
forces to preserve intact the advantages which 
that line offered for a future offensive, whilst 
behind the front new armies were raised and 
trained, and arrangements were made for 
equipping them and supplying them with 
plentiful munitions. To have gained the 
necessary respite without having anywhere 
yielded ground to an enemy who had already 
reached the full development of his forces was, 
between the autumn of 1915 and the first days 
of June, 1916, the achievement of the armies 
defending the Russian front. 

Numerous local encounters — the usual inci- 
dents of stationary trench warfare — and two 
series of bigger operations constitute the sum 
of military events during the winter and spring 
of 1915-1916. German imagination expanded 
the operations of that period into decisive 
offensives, so as to be able to proclaim their 
" total failure," to speak of the " terrifying 
losses of the enemy," and to repeat once more 
the hackneyed tale of the " unbreakable " 
nature of the German front. As a matter of 



fact, however, both the Russian attacks in the 
Bukovina — about the New Year of 1916 — and 
the operations which our Allies undertook in 
Lithuania in the second half of March were 
merely local actions very much restricted in 
purpose and extent. In either case one of 
the chief aims of the Russians was to forestall 
an imminent movement of the enemy — and in 
so far as that object was concerned they were 
fully successful. Throughout the period inter- 
vening between the close of the great Germanic 
offensive of 1915 and the commencement of 
the Allied offensive in 1916 the Austro-German 
forces proved unable to resume the initiative 
on the Eastern front. 

On February 21 the Germans opened their 
offensive against Verdun. In the following 
weeks elaborate preparations were begun by 
them also on the Dvina, evidently with a view 
to similar operations against some sector of 
the Riga-Dvinsk front. Partly in order to 
relieve the pressure in the west, and partly in 
order to forestall the offensive which, for the 
coming spring, was expected on their own 
front, our Allies opened on March 16 a short 
counter-offensive in Lithuania. The time and 

place chosen by the Russian Command by 
themselves sufficiently exj^lain the aim and 
nature of these operations. The blow was 
delivered in the district which, north of the 
Pripet Marshes, forms the most vital sector of 
the German front. Vilna is the main strategic 
centre for the entire region between the Niemen, 
the Dvina and the Marshes ; its safety was an 
essential preliminary condition for a German 
offensive anywhere between Dvinsk and Bara- 
novitche. Between Postavy and Smorgon the 
battle-line approached, however, within from 
40 to 60 miles of Vilna. Attacks against that 
sector left no choice to the enemy ; he had to 
counter them with all his strength. Still it is 
evident that our Allies could not have expected 
to carry by a coup de main a sector of such 
enormous strategic importance. The strength 
of the German fortifications in it was certain to 
correspond to its significance, and at all times 
it was held by a concentration of forces greater 
than was to be found in any other part of the 
line. Moreover, the neighbourhood of Vilna 
and the comparatively high development of 
railways and roads in that region furnished the 
means for the rapid bringing up of reinforce- 


ments. In view of the lessons taught by the 
fighting round Verdun, which had been pro- 
ceeding for more than three weeks when the 
Russian operations were started, a strategic 
rupture of the German front in the region of 
Vilna could hardly have been hoped for except 
as the result of long and steady pounding of 
their lines. Yet the Russian " offensive " was 
started in the country of the thousand lakes, 
of forest and marshy valleys, at a moment 
when the imminent melting of the snow was 
certain soon to render the entire region unfit 
for any serious military operations. But then 
the Russians did not mean the attacks which 
they delivered in Lithuania in March, 1916, to 
be the beginning of a big offensive. They 
aimed at immediate results ; by a threat which 
could not have been left unheeded they meant 
to disturb German calculations — and it is 

evident that they succeeded in achieving that 
aim. The time for decisive action against the 
Central Powers had not yet arrived — either 
in the east, west or south. 

The attacking Russian forces operated in two 
groups. South of the Bereswetsh-Postavy- 
Svientsiany railway-line stood a group of three 
army corps and one cavalry division under 
General Baluyeff ; the isthmus between Lakes 
Narotch and Vishnieff was the main objective 
of its attacks. A similar force commanded by 
General Pleshkoff operated between Postavy 
and Lake Drisviaty. On the German side the 
front between Lake Vishnieff and Lake Dris- 
viaty was held by the Tenth Army under 
General von Eichhorn, consisting of 1 1 \ infantry 
and two cavalry divisions (besides two other 
cavalry divisions in reserve), and supported on 
the left wing by a few divisions of the Eighth 



Army under General von Scholtz. Thus, in so 
far as numbers were concerned, the opposing 
forces were fairly evenly matched. 

On March 16 the Russian batteries opened a 
violent bombardment of the German lines. In 
the hope of forestalling, or at least disturbing, 
the coming Russian attacks, the Germans 
delivered on the following day an impetuous 
attack against the Russian positions south of 
Tverietch, and on March 18 at Miedziany. 
The attacks failed completely and the enemy 
had to retire in haste, leaving some booty in the 
hands of the Russians. On March 19 our 

Commander of the Northern Armies. 

Allies captured the village of Velikoie Selo, 
north of Vileity. On the same day marked 
progress was made by them between Lakes 
Narotch and Vishnieff. After a severe fight 
the Russians succeeded in carrying the village 
of Zanaptche and in occupying part of the 
enemy trenches near Ostrovliany and in front 
of Baltagouzy. The next few days witnessed 
a series of attacks and counter-attacks on the 
isthmus between the lakes, during which posi- 
tions were frequently changing hands. By 
March 23 our Allies had advanced their lines 
still farther in the direction of Blizniki and 
Mokrytsa. In this region between Lakes Vishnieff 
and Narotch the troops of General Baluyeff 
captured during the four days, March 18 to 21, 

18 officers and 1,255 men and one 5-in. howitzer 
18 machine-guns, 26 field mortars, 10 hand 
mortars and considerable quantities of small 
arms and ammunition. 

Simultaneously with the fighting on the 
isthmus similar encounters were proceeding in 
three other sectors of the Lithuanian front : 
between the Lake Miadziol and Postavy, near 
Tverietch, and north of Vidzy, on the line Lake 
Sekla-Mintsiouny. Finally, on the Dvina, 
half-way between Riga and Dvinsk, in front 
of the curve which the river forms between 
Lievenhof and Friedrichstadt, our Allies carried 
by a sudden and sharp attack a series of German 
trenches in the .region of Augustenhof and 
Buschhof. In almost every part of the line 
where fighting was proceeding the Russians 
succeeded in improving their tactical position. 
That was all that had been counted upon. 
" On the whole, the series of engagements 
latterly reported in the official communiques,'" 
wrote The Times correspondent at Petrograd, 
under date of March 23, " bears the character 
of an encounter battle" — and warnings were 
given out from well-informed quarters at 
Petrograd that nothing more should be ex- 
pected at that season of the year, on the very 
threshold of spring. And indeed in the last 
days of March the general thaw and the melting 
of the snow, which was lying on the ground 
several feet high, put an end to the fighting 
in Lithuania. It was once more resumed in the 
last days of April. By a considerable military 
effort the Germans recaptured the trenches 
which the Russians had taken from them in the 
i?thmus between Lakes Narotch and Vishnieff, 
but were unable to advance any further. 

In June, when the great Russian offensive 
south of the Marshes was breaking up the 
Austro -German front and casting a shadow far 
before it over Central Europe, the German 
Headquarters felt the urgent need of reassuring 
the population by means of a heroic legend. 
A graphic description had to be given, so 
crudely coloured as to impress itself even on 
minds beginning to yield to fear. It had to 
be demonstrated that every Russian offensive 
must necessarily break down and end in disaster ; 
it had to be shown that the sacred ground of 
the Fatherland could not ever again be in 
danger of contamination by a hostile foot. On 
June 9 — the date is significant — German Head- 
quarters published an account of the Russian 
" offensive " of March, 191G. The official pen 
ran riot in describing an encounter of Russians 


Commander of the Russian Armies in 

and Germans : " Indeed, a shattering and yet 
elevating picture ! Out yonder, masses forging 
forward through deep mud and swamps, driven 
by blows of the knout and by the fire of their 
own guns. Here the iron wall of the Hinden- 
burgArmy. Firm, rigid in iron and steel. Still 
firmer in the will of every single man : to hold 
out even against overwhelming odds. Nobody 

the Great Offensive south of the Prlpet, 

here turns back with anxious glances, nobody 
looks back at the police behind the front. 
There are no police. All eyes are bent steadily 
to the front, and the stones of the wall are the 
soldier-hearts of the defenders " 

One wonders what German soldiers must have 
felt when reading the fustian of their own 
Headquarters, whether rage and shame did not 



make their blood boil when thinking of the 
twaddler who, somewhere safe behind the front, 
was writing down the opponent for the comfort 
of nervons people at home, and making the 
fighters of his own army ridiculous. And a 
month later these very scribes were complaining 
of the British communiqves being " written in a 
style which has nothing in common with mili- 
tary brevity and simplicity " and " is no longer 
the language of a soldier " ! 

But the immediate tactical results were not 
the only aim and profit of the military opera- 
tions undertaken by the Russians in the autumn 
and winter of 1015-10. They had also their 
educational value. " In every movement, 
great or small, that we have made this winter," 
said General Brusiloff to The Times correspon- 
dent, Mr. Stanley Washburn, at the conclusion 
of the first stage of the offensive in June, 1010, 
" we have been studying the best methods of 
handling the new problems which modern war- 
fare presents. At the beginning of the war, 
and especially last summer, we lacked the pre- 
parations which the Germans have been making 
for the past 50 years. Personally I was not 
discouraged, for my faith in Pvussian troops and 

Russian character is an enduring one. I was 
convinced that, given the munitions, we should 
do exactly as we have done in the past two 

The task of Russu' was in a way similar to 
that of Great Britain. In the middle of the 
war she had to build up new armies and devise 
the means for supplying them with the necessary 
war material. As against England, indeed, 
Russia was favoured in having vast cadres of 
highly trained officers and in possessing, in the 
widest sense of the word, the tradition of a 
great national army. But she was handicapped 
in matters of industrial development and of 
communications both within her own empire 
and with the outer world. In spite of this, 
however, Russia, during the period of suspense 
in the fighting, accomplished results which had 
never entered the calculations of the enemy and 
surpassed even the hopes of her Allies. In 
fact, they could never have been achieved had 
it not been for the unanimous, enthusiastic 
support which the entire Russian nation gave 
to every enterprise connected with the war. 
That is true of individuals as well as of organiza- 
tions. Among the latter it was especially the 
Unions of Zemstvos and Towns which did the 

On the right is Captain Baranoff, chief of General Brusiloff's escort. 


: ,it£& 

Near the fighting-line. 

most important work. " The desire to work 
on the part of the Unions was so great," 
said General Alexeieff, Chief of the General 
Staff, " that they willingly undertook anything, 
great or small, provided it was of use to the 

Whilst the direction of the armies in the field 
rested with General Alexeieff, dependent im- 
mediately on the Tsar himself, up to the end of 
March General Polivanoff presided over the 
work of the War Office. On March 29 General 
Polivanoff was relieved of his office, and was 
succeeded by General Shuvaieff . * 

The summer of 1916 found the Russian 
armies between the Baltic Sea and the Ru- 
manian frontier grouped in three main divisions. 
General Kuropatkin, who by an Imperial 
Ukase dated February 19 had been appointed 
Commander-in-Chief of the Northern Armies 
in place of General Plehve, was in charge of 
the Riga-Dvinsk line. He had three armies 
under his command — the Twelfth Army of 
General Gorbatowski with headquarters at 
Venden, the Fifth Army based on Rzezytsa, 
and the First Army of General Litvinoff in the 

* See Vol. VIII.. p. 204. 

district of Disna. German writers put their 
aggregate strength at 35 to 41 divisions of 
infantry, and 13 J divisions of cavalry. 

The centre facing Vilna remained under the 
command of General Evert, who by the mag- 
nificent skill displayed in the retreat from the 
Niemen and Vilia, had enhanced the high 
reputation which he had earned in the Russo- 
Japanese War. His group included the Second 
Army under General Smirnoff round Dokshitse, 
the Tenth Army of General Radkievitch with 
headquarters at Minsk, the Fourth Army of 
General Rogoza on the Upper Niemen, and the 
Third Army of General Lesh on the northern 
outskirts of the Pripet Marshes. German 
estimates of the strength of the Russian centre 

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varied from 42A to 50| infantry and 8i cavalry 

One may safely assume that these figures were 
more or less exaggerated. It was the regular 
policy of German writers to enhance the figures 
of the forces opposed to them (not of those 
opposed to the Austrians !) and to discount the 
strength of enemy reserves, so as to magnify 
the greatness of their own " achievements " 
and to prove the hopelessness of the enemy's 

Ever since the distinction between northern 
and southern theatres of war had arisen on the 
Russian front, the armies south of the Pripet 
Marshes had remained under the command of 
General Ivanoff. In the first days of April, 
that fine old soldier having been called to 
Imperial Headquarters to act as military 
adviser to the Tsar, his place at the front was 
taken by General Brusiloff, who had hitherto 
led the Eighth Army. At the beginning of the 
summer offensive his command included four 
armies (towards the end of June, when Volhynia 
had become the main battle-ground of Europe, 
the army of General Lesh also was transferred 
to this theatre of war). The four original 
armies of General Brusiloff were — his own old 
army with headquarters at Rovno, now under 
the oommand of General Kaledin ; the Eleventh 
Army under General Sakharoff on the borders 
of Volhynia and Podolia ; the Seventh Army 
under General Shcherbatieff in Eastern Galicia ; 
and lastly, the Ninth Army of General Lechit- 
sky on the Dniester and the frontier between 
the Bukovina and Bessarabia. German esti- 
mates put the strength of the Southern Armies 
in May, 1916, at 41 divisions of infantry and 
14 divisions of cavalry — which is much nearer 
the mark than the estimate of the northern 

It was in the southern area, and especially 
in the spheres of operation of the Eighth and 
Ninth Russian Armies, that the decisive battles 
were to be fought during the opening stages of 
the new Russian offensive. The victories of 
June, 1916, added new lustre to the reputation 
of General Brusiloff, and made known through- 
out the world the hitherto unfamiliar names of 
Generals Kaledin and Lechitsky. 

4Jexey Alexeyevitch Brusiloff belonged to 
an old Russian noble family. Of medium 
height and spare build, with finely moulded 
features, steady, sharp grey eyes, and elegant 
easy movement, General Brusiloff had pre- 
served to the full his bodily vigour. A famous 

Commanded the Russian Armies in the centre. 

horseman — a distinction which it is by no 
means easy to earn in Russia — he had all 
through life kept in training. Although the 
requirements of his professional work, as its 
sphere was widening, led him away from 
the interests of his younger years, be pre- 
served the appearance of the typical cavalry 
officer. It was in the cavalry that he started 
his career. His work for the development and 
training of that arm, which had always taken 
a prominent part in the Russian forces, left 
a permanent mark on its organization. In 
1906, at the age of 53, Brusiloff was appointed 
to the command of the Second Cavalry Division 
of the Guard. Being known as an able adminis- 
trator, he was subsequently attached for some, 
tune as military assistant to the Governor- 
General of Warsaw, General Skalon. In 1911 
General Brusiloff was entrusted with the 
command of the army corps stationed at 
Vinnitsa (Russian Podolia) and of its military 
district, which, bordering on East Galicia, was 
the most important military area within the 
Kieff command. 

Thus General Brusiloff had spent the years 
following on the Japanese War, during which 
the Russian Army was reorganized, in the 
frontier-districts to the north and east of 



Galicia. The outbreak of the war found him 
in command of the forces concentrated in 
Russian Podolia. It was then but natural that 
he should be chosen to lead the army which 
invaded Galicia from the east. Previous 
chapters of this history have told the story of 
his rapid advance on Nizhnioff and Halitch, 
of the grand battles which the Eighth Army 
fought under Iris leadership in the Carpathian 
Mountains, of its raids into Hungary, and finally 
of the retirement which followed on the catas- 
trophe of the adjoining Third Army on the 
Dunayets. Even in the course of that retire- 
ment Brusiloff's army still managed to capture 
vast numbers of prisoners, and it concluded its 
retreat in the first days of September, 1915, by 
a brilliant counter-offensive in Yolhynia, which 
gave it for a time command of Lutsk, and per- 
manently secured Rovno. It therefore sur- 
prised no one when General Brusiloft' was chosen 
successor to General Ivanoff. 

In the command of his own army he was 
succeeded by General Kaledin. Before the 
opening of the great Russian offensive Kaledin's 
name was little known, even in Russia, except 
in military circles. At the beginning of the 
war he led a cavalry division in General 
Brusiloff's army. He distinguished himself in 
every one of the many actions in which he was 

engaged, and was soon entrusted with the 
command of an army corps, and finally was 
picked out by General Brusiloff to succeed him 
at the head of the entire Eighth Russian Army. 
He was a short, thick-set man. His quiet, 
sober eyes inspired confidence in anyone who 
had dealings with him. The conduct of the 
Volhynian battle in June, 1916, proved that 
at any rate in the military art he was a past 
master — a fact which not even enemy writers 
dared to question. 

One other of General Brusiloff's army-com- 
manders rivalled in June, 1916, the fame of 
(ieneral Kaledin. It was General Lechitsky, 
the leader of the Russian offensive against the 
Bukovina. His career reads like a romance. 
He was born in 1856, the son of a Greek- 
Orthodox priest in a small provincial town. He 
himself was intended by his parents for the 
Church and consequently attended the theo- 
logical school at Vilna. He felt, however, that 
his real vocation was that of a soldier. Too 
poor to enter a military school, he joined the 
army as a volunteer in a reserve battalion, and 
by this roundabout way reached the cadets' 
corps. He then spent some 16 years as a 
company officer in Siberia. For many years he 
struggled in obscurity with hardly a chance of 
ever rising above the level of so many patient, 

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The leader of the Russian offensive against the 

quiet regimental officers whose work makes the 
life of the Russian Army and whose names pass 
into the oblivion of the crowd. The Boxer 
Revolt in China gave him his first chance of 
showing his true mettle ; he was soon promoted 
to the rank of a colonel. He subsequently did 
excellent work in the Russo-Japanese War, and 
was a short time afterwards made a general. 
In 1906 he was entrusted with the command 
of the First Division of the Guard, and in 1911 
he was put at the head of the army district of 
Chabarovsk in Eastern Siberia. During the 
Great War it was not until June, 1916, that he 
appeared in a big offensive action as com- 
mander of an Army — with the result that in the 
south, between the Dniester and Pruth, the 
Russians advanced within a month about 50 
miles, and that the name of General Lechitsky 
became one of the best known in Europe. 

On the side of the enemy the Pripet Marshes 
marked approximately the division between 
the spheres of the two Germanic Allies. Al- 
though one Austro-Hungarian -army :Corps 
remained in the northern region, and a few 
German divisions and two German commanders 
operated in the southern district, it is still cor- 
rect for the period of relative suspense (Sep- 
tember, 1915--June, 1916) to call the line 
between the Pripet Marshes and the Rumanian 
border the Austro-Hungarian front. Having 
done most of the work in 1915, the Austrians 
wished to be able to call some quarter their 
own ; soon after the fall of Brest-Litovsk a 
segregation of troops was carried out, and 

Field-Marshal Archduke Frederick (and also 
General Conrad von Hotzendorf, the Chief of 
the Austrian General Staff) came again to their 
oven. The Archduke now conunanded the 
armies south of the Marshes, whilst Field- 
Marshal von Hindenburg and the shadowy 
Prince Leopold of Bavaria directed the forces 
between the Baltic Sea and the Pripet. 

Hindenburg's command embraced four armies 
whilst one army and an army detachment looked 
for guidance to the military genius from the 
House of Wittelsbach. A group consisting of 
7 1 infantry divisions and one cavalry division 
held the line from the Baltic Sea till about 
Friedrichstadt. Xext to it stood the Eighth 
German Army under General von Scholtz ; 
it consisted of nine infantry and three cavalry 
divisions, and its sphere of operation extended 
till about Vidzy. The adjoining Tenth Army 
under General von Eichhorn had the biggest 
effectives at its disposal, but had the shortest 
front to defend. It included 11£ infantry 
and two cavalry divisions (besides another two 
cavalry divisions in reserve), and occupied the 
district between Vidzy and the Upper Vilia ; it 
was thus primarily upon this Army that de- 
volved the task of protecting Vilna, its head- 
quarters. From north of Smorgon down to the 


Commanded the Russian Army at Rovno. 



Xiemen extended the positions of the Twelfth 
Army under General von Fabeck (eight divisions 
v ith one brigade in reserve). 

South of the Xiemen extended the realm of 
I'rince Leopold of Bavaria, monarch of one of 
the manj' kingdoms of Poland which were 
vainly planned during the war, and chief of 
a group of armies which never existed.* The 
line between the Xiemen and the Oginski Canal 
was held by his one and only companion. 
General von Woyrseh, commanding the Ninth 
German Army (in a " birthday article " which 
the Vienna Neue Freie Presse devoted to 
Prince Leopold in November, 1915, he himself 
had been described as its commander). The 
Ninth Army included eight German infantry 
divisions and the 12th Austro-Hungarian army 
corps. This detachment, consisting mainly of 
Transylvanian troops, was the remainder of 
the Kovess Group, which had become engulfed 
in Woyrsch's Army in July, 1915, when 
General Dankl, with part of the, in any case, 
slender First Austro-Hungarian Army, had 
been transferred to the Italian front. Subse- 
quently, on the commencement of the new 
campaign against Serbia, in the autumn of 1915, 
the leader of the remainder of the First Austro- 
Hungarian Army in the north, General Kovess 
von Kovesshaza, was removed with part of his 
troops to Serbia, whilst the 12th army corps 
was left in the midst of its German comrades. 
However well the Germans conducted publicity 
campaigns for themselves and for any German 
commander or division which might happen to 
find itself within the Austrian lines, the pre- 
sence of their " weaker brethren " within their 
own half of the line was regularly passed over 
in silence until it came to bear the brunt of a 
Russian attack. Then, on June 16, 1916, the 
Yi?nna Neue Freie Presse devoted a whole 
article to that newly discovered Austrian 
detachment, stating that " the news of their 
presence in Lithuania " may surprise its 
readers, "as it was not hitherto generally 
known that a detachment of Imperial and 
Royal troops stood so far north in the midst of 
German armies." In fact, the only writer who 
had previously mentioned it was the Military 
Correspondent of The Times in his remarkable 
article on the German Armies in Russia, pub- 
lished on April 23, 1916. 

* Attention has been previously called to the peculiar 
military career of Prince Leopold, who had risen to the 
rank of commander of a group of armies for the occasion 
of his entry into Warsaw ; cj. Chapter XCI., pp. 328 
and 358, and Chapter CX-, p. 114. 

Besides the Ninth Army there was only a 
small detachment in the thick of the Pripet 
swamps (made separate probably in order to 
mark the difference of standing between mere 
army commanders and the Royal Prince of 
Bavaria). That detachment consisted of three 
infantry and two cavalry divisions. 

Thus the German forces north of the Pripet 
Marshes seem to have included 48 divisions of 
infantry and 10 divisions of cavalry, repre- 
senting an aggregate strength of probably 
1 ,200,000 men. The most striking feature was the 
almost complete absence of strategic reserves ; 
these had been drained for the Verdun front. 

It was the kindly, grandfatherly spirit of 
Archduke Frederick which presided over the 
fates of Miitel-Europa in the country south of 
the Marshes during the spring of ] 9 1 6. The 
days of the grim Mackensen had gone, and the 
Prussian Von Linsingen and the Bavarian 
Count Bothmer were as yet merely subordi- 
nates of the old gentleman whom fate and the 
Habsburg family had chosen for a general. 
Born in 1856, he celebrated his 60th birthday 
on June 4 — indeed a day which history will 
remember, though for reasons very different 
from those on which the courtiers of Vienna 

It is a family tradition of the Habsburgs to 
produce military geniuses. Archduke Frede- 
rick, a grandson of Archduke Charles, the hero 
of Aspern, and a nephew of Archduke Albrecht 
of Custozza fame, was chosen to be a real 
soldier. He entered the army at the age of 15. 
At the age of 24 he was already a colonel, two 
years later a general. As a man of 30 he was 
put in command of a division, and three years 
later of a whole army-corps. Having shown 
such extraordinary abilities in his youth, he 
became in 1906 Commander-in-Chief of the 
Austrian Landwehr, and on July 12, 1914, the 
Emperor Francis Joseph appointed him to the 
highest command of the common Austro- 
Hungarian Army. At the time that the 
Germans thought Russia to have been " finished 
off for good " they handed over to him the 
southern portion of the Eastern front. 

Two separate regions may be distinguished 
within that area : the Russian district of 
Volhynia and the Austrian territories in East 
Galicia and the Bukovina. The differences in 
the development of means of communication 
and in their directions preserve the importance 
of this frontier line, which otherwise (accord- 
ing to the principles of the text-books) should 



A portrait of Nicholas II. under guard during an advance. 

have ceased to exist with the outbreak of 

The Volhynian district was held by two 
Austrian armies : the Third Austro-Hungarian 
Army under Genera] Puhallo von Brlog, 
between the Marshes and, and 
the Fourth Army under Archduke Joseph 
Ferdinand within the Volhynian Triangle of 
Fortresses (the Austrians held Lutsk and 
Dubno, and were facing Rovno). Into these 
two armies seems to have been merged, at a 
date which was never announced, and in a 
way which was never described, the army of 
General von Linsingen— and he himself re- 

mained in Volhynia in a character which was 
never denned until the middle of June, 1916. 
Then, after the first Austrian defeats, the 
German official cotnmuniques (not those of 
Vienna !) suddenly began to speak of a new 
" group of armies " under Von Linsingen. The 
Prussian had now openly taken out of the weak 
Habsburg hands the command in the Volhy- 
nian battle area. 

It will be remembered that in the winter of 
1914-15, when the battles were raging in th< j 
Carpathians, a German " Army of the South " 
was holding the mountain-chain from the Uzsok 
Pass to the upper courses of the Bystrzytsas. 

105- 3 




The Commander-in-Chief of the Austro-Hungarian 

Army, with his grandchildren — the children of 

Princess Hohenlohe. 

TL.S chief commander was Von Linsingen, and 
its elite, the Prussian army corps containing 
the Third Division of the Guard, was led by 
Count Bothmer. Even then more than half 
of the effectives of the " German Army of the 
South " consisted of Austro -Hungarian troops. 
During the advance in the summer of 1915 it 
was split up, Linsingen proceeding to Volhynia, 
whilst Botlimer advanced against the Tarnopol- 
Trembovla front. Each of these halves served 
as framework for a new army filled out with 
fresh Austrian troops. Meantime no increase 
was made in their German leaven — on the 
contrary, much of it was removed. The last 
withdrawal was the Prussian Guard of Both- 
mer's Army, which had to go to replenish the 
German effectives before Verdun. Towards the 
end of May, 1916, there were left hardly more 
than three German divisions in the midst of the 
Austrian forces. Two of these stood in Vol- 
hynia, whilst the 48th German Reserve Di- 
vision was the only one remaining with the 
army of General Count Bothmer. 

Of Austro-Hungarian troops the two Volhy- 
nian armies included 12J infantry and seven 
cavalry divisions, besides the Polish legions 

composed of all arms and amounting to some- 
thing more than a division. 

The front of the adjoining Second Austro- 
Hungarian Army under General von Boehm- 
Ermolli also extended mainly over Russian soil. 
Its line stretched front south of Dqbno to a 
point north of the Tarnopol-Krasne-Lvoff 
railway-line. Still, up to the time when it was 
dragged into the maelstrom of the Volhynian 
battle, this army, with its headquarters and 
bases on Austrian soil, belonged to the Galician 
rather than to the Volhynian group. It 
included about eight infantry divisions — all of 
them Austrian or Hungarian. The rest of the 
Austrian front was held by the two Armies of 
Count Bothmer and General von Pflanzer- 
Baltin, the point of junction between them 
lying in the district of Butchatch. In March, 
1916, their aggregate strength amounted to 
about 20 Austro-Hungarian and two German 
infantry divisions and four divisions of Austro- 
Hungarian cavalry. It was especially within 
that sector that changes were effected in the 
course of the spring. Besides the Third 
Division of the Prussian Guard, whose with- 
drawal to Verdun was mentioned above, 
these armies lost a few infantry divisions to 
the ItaUan front. Yet the largest withdrawals 
for the Trentino offensive did not come from 
the armies at the front, but from the bases in 
the rear. The Italian campaign had an effect 
on the position of the Austro-Hungarian armies 
in the east analogous to that which the Verdun 
offensive exercised on Hindenburg's line. It 
left them bare of strategic reserves. 

The best authorities estimated the strength 
of the enemy's infantry in the south at the time 
when our Allies opened their great offensive at 
about 38 Austro-Hungarian and three German 
infantry divisions. Their strength in infantry 
seems, therefore, to have been about equal to 
that of General Brusiloff's armies, though the 
Russians undoubtedly possessed a marked 
superiority in cavalry. 

The fact haw been frequently commented upon 
that at the time w r hen the Russians opened their 
offensive of 1916 the Austro-Hungarian armies 
at the eastern front included hardly any 
Czech, Yugo-Slav or Pvuthenian regiments — 
i.e., few elements friendly at heart to the Slav 
cause. Those troops had been sent mainly to 
the Italian front, whilst Germans, Magyars, 
Italians and Poles were sent to Russia and 
Galicia. Indeed, all along the line could be 
found Magyar regiments or whole army corps, 



as, e.g.. the group of General von Szurmay in 
the north, the detachment of General von 
Goglia near Podkamien (south of Brody), and 
very considerable numbers of Hungarian 
regiments within Pflauzer-Baltin's army. Simi- 
larly, German-Austrians — Viennese regiments, 
Alpine divisions, Germans from Bohemia and 
Moravia — were posted along the entire front. 
Still, Czech and Yugo-Slav soldiers were by 
no means absent. They were scattered in 
groups among the troops whose loyalty could 
be relied upon by the Austro-Hungarian Army 
Command ; these had to keep watch over them, 
send them everywhere into the most exposed 
positions, and where any suspicion of " treason " 
arose, fire at them from behind. Yet even 
so, it remains to be known whether these 
bodies of men, devoted to the cause of Slav 
freedom and hating the German-Magyar rule, 
did not contribute in some measure to the 
victories of our Russian Allies. Anyhow, the 
Russians soon became aware of their presence, 
and whilst the true enemies among the prisoners 
were started off on their weary journey to 
Siberia or Turkestan, the Slavs were placed 
at once on farms behind the Russian front, 
where labour was needed for the approaching 
harvest. They were a real godsend to the 
farmers, as was shown by numerous notices 
on the subject which appeared in the Press of 
Southern Russia. 

Of all the handicaps under which the Austro- 
Hungarian Army Command was suffering 
the most dangerous was perhaps its almost 
pathetic conceit. It was not merely the daily 
twaddle of the Neue Freie Presse and inspired 
statements for the consumption of neutrals 
which proclaimed the impregnability of the 
Austrian positions and the invincibility of 
Austrian troops. Prominent army comman- 
ders made statements to that effect even in 
private, intimate conversations. Of their pub- 
lic declarations it will suffice to quote a single 
one. On the very eve of the new Russian 
offensive Baron Conrad von Hotzendorf, Chief 
of the Austro-Hungarian General Staff, was 
reported as saying to the Swedish journalist, 
Herr Nils Lago Linquist : " We have held out 
for two years, and those two years were the 
worst. Now we can hold out in a cheerful and 
confident frame of mind as long as it pleases 
our enemies. To hold out, of that we are 
certainly capable. We are not to be conquered 
again."* The Pester Lloyd had the doubtful 
taste to reprint that conversation in its issue 
of June 8. 

Even the production of food was a concern 
of the Austro-Hungarian Army at the front. 
Convinced of the impossibility of ever again 
having to retreat, it devoted all its spare 
energies to the tilling of the fields behind the 
* " Una ringt man nicht mehr nieder." 

Built on a river bank. 





z .s 

o = 

as 2 

D » 

Z i 

< •= 




battle line. The peaceful pursuits of its 
detachments in reserve quarters no less 
eloquently proves the confidence then pre- 
vailing in the Austrian Army than the luxuries 
and amenities of the life of its officers, even 
in what for their soldiers was the firing-line. 

Towards the end of June, 1916, Mr. Stanley 
Washburn, The Times Special Correspondent 
with the Russian Forces, visited some districts 
behind the Austrian front in Volhynia and 
described the elaborate arrangements which had 
been made in that region for the well-being and 
pleasure of the troops : 

At a safe distance from rifle fire behind the lines one 
came on the officers' quarters, which seemed like a 
veritable park in the heart of the forest. Here one 
found a beer garden with buildings beautifully con- 
structed from logs and decorated with rustic tracery, 
while chairs and tables made of birch still stood in 
lonely groups about the garden just where they were 
left when the occupants of the place suddenly departed. 
In a sylvan bower was erected a beautiful altar of birch 
trimmed with rustic traceries, the whole being surrounded 
by a fence through which one passed under an arch 
neatly made of birch branches. The Austrians must 
have had an extremely comfortable time here. Every- 
thing is clean and neat, and, no matter how humble the 
work, it is always replete with good taste. One of the 
advancing corps captured a trench with a piano in it, 
and if the stories of large quantities of miscellaneous 
lingerie (not included in the official list of trophies) that 
fell into Russian hands are to be believed, one feels 
that the Austrians did not spend a desolate or lonely 
winter on this front. . . . 

Emerging from the belt of woods, we cross an open 
bit of country, and everywhere find signs of the Aus- 
trians' intention to make their stay as comfortable as 
possible. In fact, the Russians can make no complaint 
of the state in which the enemy has left the territory 
which he has been occupying. Nothing has been 
destroyed that belonged to the Russian peasantry, and, 
indeed, very little of the works the Austrians themselves 
created. Every village has been carefully cleaned up, 
each house is neatly white-washed, with numbers painted 
on the front. Ditches have been cut along the sides of 
the streets and most of the houses have been tastefully 
fenced in by the rustic birch -work which one sees every- 
where here. In several villages parks have been con- 
structed, with rustic bandstands. 

Arrangements had also been made for the 
local revictualling of the armies. Besides 
bakeries and slaughter-houses the Austrian 
Army had close behind the front its own sausage 
factories ( Wurste.rzeugungsanlagen ), rooms fitted 
for the pickling and smoking of meat, and, 
finally, suitable places for the cold storage of 
the provisions. The meat-packers of one 
army corps alone of the army of General von 
Pflanzer-Baltin produced every third day 
about a ton of sausages and smoked meat. 
(And the description of all these indescrib- 
able delights was officially given out to 
hungry Austria about a fortnight before the 
commencement of the Russian offensive !) Yet 
strict economy was exercised in the slaughter- 

houses of the " Imperial and Royal Army." All 
tallow was carefully collected, and whatever 
remained after the soldiers had been pro- 
vided with grease for their rifles and boots was 
handed over to the soap factory — of course, 
again one owned and worked by the Army 

Every detachment had behind the front its 
own vegetable gardens, which were tilled and 
looked after by the soldiers resting in reserve 
positions. The total surface of these gardens 
amounted to thousands of acres. And in those 
villages and camps behind the front the Army 
fattened even its own pigs and cattle ! 

Work on an even greater scale was done in 
conjunction with the local population. The 
horses of the cavalry and artillery were used in 
the fields, motor-ploughs and all kinds of 
machines, strange and incomprehensible to the 
local peasant, were worked by the army 
mechanics and engineers. Thus, for example, 
the army of Pflanzer-Baltin, behind whose 
front lay the Bukovina, one of the most fertile 
countries in the world, cooperated in the tilling 
of many hundred thousand acres of land. Of 
course, it never crossed their minds that it 
might be not they who were to reap the harvest. 
One more detail may be mentioned as illustrat- 
ing the feeling of absolute security which pre- 
vailed in Austrian and even German Govern- 
ment circles. Vast quantities of grain bought 
in Rumania were stored in the Bukovina, 
comparatively close behind the front. When 
the Russian offensive broke through the Aus- 
trian lines, and all railways were blocked with 
war material, transports, wounded soldiers, 
refugees, etc., there was no time to remove to 
safety all the accumulated stores. A consider- 
able part of them was captured by the Russians 
or perished in conflagrations. Thus near 
Itskany no less than five big Austrian 
granaries and 15 smaller ones belonging to the 
German military authorities were consumed 
by fire. 

Yet one can hardly be surprised if the Austro- 
Hungarian Army Command thought its front 
impregnable. Every possible device had been 
adopted to render it so. In most sectors there 
were five distinct consecutive lines of trenches, 
many of them even 15 or 20 feet deep. The 
woodwork and fittings were most elaborate, 
the dug outs of the same pattern which was 
familiar on the Western front. A thorough and 
efficient system of communication had been 
established in the rear of the battle-line. 



About to set off to scour the surrounding woods and plains. 

Everywhere were field railways, and one could 
hardly find anywhere more beautifully laid 
tracks than were those behind the Austrian 
front. And this system of roads and railways 
was always being further developed. When 
the Russians broke through the Austrian lines 
they came across many tracks which were only 
just in process of construction. 

More difficult than on the high plateau of 
the south was the work of entrenching and of 
constructing roads and railways in the marshy 
regions of northern Volhynia. It was there in 
many places impossible to dig trenches of the 
usual kind. Recourse was had to a system of 
parapets secured by breastwork such as was 
generally used in the wars of the seventeenth 
century. The roads were made of logs, not of 
stone ; they were artificial causeways rather 
than roads. In some districts they presented 
one long stretch of wide bridges, at points even 
of considerable height, so as to secure them 
against the spring floods. In the country 
between the lower courses of the Styr and the 
Stochod some of these bridges attained even 
the length of two miles and more. 

In short, as far as the mere work of preparing 
their positions was concerned and of organizing 
their communications and supplies behind the 
front, the Austrians can hardly be reproached 
with carelessness or inefficiency. They had 
practically the same technical means for 
resisting the enemy's offensive as the Germans 

north of the Marshes or in France, and if their 
resistance was not equal to that of their allies, 
it was due to the fact that their Headquarters 
were caught napping, that the general standard 
of the average Austro -Hungarian soldier had 
been lowered during the preceding two years of 
war, and that many of the troops had not their 
heart in the fight. It is possible that an 
excessive amount of artillery had been with- 
drawn for the Italian front, and it is certain 
that no sufficient strategic reserves had been 
left for the Eastern front. Yet, above all, the 
fact remains that the Russian soldier had 
established a marked individual superiority 
over his opponent from the Habsburg 
Monarchy ; and he who would not acknow- 
ledge that fact would search in vain for the 
causes of the catastrophical character which 
from the very first day the Russian offensive 
assumed for the Austro-Hungarian Army. 

" Everything in war is very simple," said 
Von Moltke, " but the simple things are very 
difficult." This is certainly true of the Russian 
summer offensive of 1916. Its strategic 
scheme was extremely simple, but its execution 
was one of the most colossal undertakings 
which any army ever had to face. The 
offensive extended all along the line — i.e., in 
all the most important districts some sectors 
were singled out for attack. The timing of 
these attacks to a single day made it impossible 



for the enemy to throw his forces to and fro 
behind the front, and compelled him to fight 
each of the series of initial battles with the 
support of merely local reserves. 

The results of the first two or three days 
determined the further development of the 
Russian scheme. " You can plan a cam- 
paign," was another of Moltke's sayings, " only 
up to the beginning of the first battle." The 
Russian offensive was successful beyond all 
expectation in the districts of Lutsk, Butchatch, 
and between the Dniester and the Pruth. It 
failed to break through the enemy front on the 
line extending from the border of Volhynia 
and Galicia (round Zalostse) to about Vis- 
niovtchyk on the Strypa. Similarly, in the 
north, hardly any progress was made on the 
Styr below Kolki. The question therefore 
arose, how far a strategic advance was possible 
through the breaches effected in the enemy 
front. Two of the opposing armies — those of 
Archduke Joseph Ferdinand and of General 
von Pflanzer-Baltin — had met with complete 
disaster ; but the army of General von Puhallo 
on the Lower Styr, of General von Boehm- 
Ermolli south of Dubno, and of Count Bothmor 

on the "Upper and Middle Strypa, though by 
no means intact, still represented a very serious 
fighting force, and reinforcements were certain 
soon to make their appearance. Would it 
have been safe for the Russians to have poured 
troops tlirough the gaps in the Austrian front, 
or was it wiser to abstain from an experiment 
which, if unsuccessful, might have changed 
one of the greatest victories yet won in this 1 
war into a drawn battle ? 

The answer to this question depended mainly 
on the chance which the Russians had of reach- 
ing vital points or lines behind the enemy's 
front without dispersing their own forces and 
without placing them into positions fraught 
with difficulties or dangers in view of the 
imminent German counter-offensive. 

There were behind the Austrian front three 
centres of vital importance : Kovel, .Lvoff 
(Lemberg), and Stanislavoff (with the Dniester 
crossings at Nizhnioff, Jezupol. and Halitch). 
On the Russian side the main centres were 
Rovno and Tarnopol, and to a minor extent 
Tchortkoff. The Russian force which broke 
through the Austrian front near Butchatch 
could not have made its pressure felt in the 


Captured by the Russians. 






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va Ruska 

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-Russian Front in Sprmq 1916. ife""^^ Jez,er ^ a ^?0,./ f 

Scale of Miles 1^^^ toz ^£^ e 3^*£a'^^s=4=*' „ »<^ 

/o 20 30 40 so XaTarnopol^-^^^^^^/ ^:,. 



direction of Lvoff until it had reached and 
conquered the Dniester crossings. But this 
was tinder any circumstances a formidable 
task, and was rendered still more so by the 
fact that it would have had to guard against 
Bothmer's army on its right. Outflanking 
cuts both ways : a Russian force advancing 
past the unbroken Austro-Oerman front on the 
Middle Strypa might have outflanked the enemy 
or might itself have suffered that fate. But 
whereas a successful Russian movement to the 
west would have still left Bothmer the possi- 
bility of falling back on to the Halitch-Pod- 
haytse-Denysoff line, a failure of our Allies 
would have thrown them back on to the " belt 

of the Dniester," a region devoid of practicable 
lines of communication. Hence an advance 
on the northern bank of the Dniester west of 
Butchatch would have been an extremely risky 
enterprise as long as Count Bothmer continued 
to hold his part of the front, and in any case 
could not have affected within reasonable time 
the position in north-eastern Galicia and 

A Russian army advancing through the 
Volhynian gap could therefore have relied only 
on its own forces. But what were the main 
lines of advance in front of it ? The two rail- 
ways from Rovno to the west (the Rovno- 
Rozhishche-Kovel and the Rovno-Brody-Lvoff 



lines) open out into an angle of about tiu°. An 
advance to the west would, therefore, have had 
to follow divergent lines and would have spread 
out like a fan. Such a movement, risky under 
any circumstances, was rendered dangerous to 
an extreme degree by the fact that in the 
course of the war Kovel had been linked up 
with Lvoff by the railway which, between 
Vladimir-Volynsk and Sokal, connected the 
older Kovel -Vladimir and Lvoff-Sokal lines. In 
other words, at the base of the triangle formed 
by Rovno, Lvoff, and Kovel the enemy pos- 
sessed a lateral line of communication (rein- 
forced, moreover, by the LvofT-Kamionka- 
Stoyanoff railway), whereas our Allies, advanc- 
ing from the east, would have had no such assist- 
ance for quick manoeuvring. 

The topographical conditions analysed 
above determined the main outlines of tl.e 
Russian strategy during the first phase of their 
summer offensive in 1916. 

In the Volhynian area our Allies advanced 
as far to the west as was compatible with 
safety " and then met the German counter- 
offensive on a line on which they suffered from 
no disadvantage in matters of communications. 
In the district of Butchatch the initial success 
was not pressed any further than was necessary 
with regard to the progress made south of the 

It was in the country between the Dniester 
and the Carpathians that the advance was 
pressed most vigorously during the first month 
of the Russian offensive. Kere it was possible 
to exploit to the full the initial advantage with- 



Captured by the Russians. It was used as an 
anti-aircraft gun. 


At work on a tape machine. 

out any danger of sudden reverses. The belt 
of the Dniester, with its canons and forests, 
covered the right flank of the advancing 
Russian Army. By a rapid movement to the 
south and south-west our Allies reached the 
foot-hills of the Carpathians and soon even their 
mountain passes. To the west the advance was 
carried on to the very neighbourhood of Stanis- 
lavoff, where the German counter-offensive was 
met. To the superficial observer the progress 
south of the Dniester may appear to have been 
an advsnce into a blind alley, or at least into 
a district of secondary strategic importance. 
This was not, however, the case. Quite apart 
from its great and obvious political and econo- 
mic meaning; the Russian advance south of the 
Dniester was also of first-rate strategic signifi- 
cance. It cut a possible line of retreat of the 
Austro-German centre, which clung tenaciously 
to the line between Brody and Visniovtchyk. 
Had the district south of the Dniester remained 
in Austrian hands, the armies on the Tamopol 
front would have been far less sensitive to 
pressure from the northern flank ; their retreat 
would not have been confined to a westerly 

The first onslaught, together with the period 
during which the initial successes were deve- 
loped and consolidated — the advance of our 
Allies west of Rovno and the resistance which 
they subsequently offered to the German 



counter-offensive, and their advance south of 
the Dniester, culminating in the capture of 
Czernovitz — constitute the first phase of the 
great Russian offensive. It coincides roughly 
with the first month of active operations. The 
first days of July, in which General Lechitsky 
carried forward his advance to the west beyond 
Kolomea, and General Lesh opened his offensive 
north of Kolki, on the right flank of General 
Kaledin's Lutsk salient, can be regarded as the 
beginning of the second phase of the Russian 
advance in the summer of 1!)1(>. 

On June 1 and 2 the Germans attacked the 
Russian positions north-east and also south of 
Krevo ; they continued their onslaught during 
the night of June 2-3. The fear of approaching 
events in the southern theatre of war was the 
explanation of this sudden belated burst of 
German activity north of the Marshes. On 
June 4 the Austrian official communique 
reported a violent Russian bombardment of 
different parts of the Austrian front, especially 
of the line held by the army of Archduke 
Joseph Ferdinand, and closed with the following 
significant statement : " Everywhere there are 
indications that infantry attacks are imminent." 
The German diversion came much too late to 
influence in any way the Russian offensive 
which was now commencing in the southern 

For months our Allies had been studying 
the enemy positions and working out the 
details of the coming advance. Everything 
for the big attack had been arranged before- 
hand, and on June 4 the Russian guns began 
slowly and methodically to place their shells 
on previously selected points of the enemy 
line. It does not appear that any attempt 
was made to wipe out the enemy trenches 
themselves ; the object was rather to cut 
avenues in the wire entanglements through 
which the Russian infantry could proceed to 
attack the enemy positions. The artillery pre- 
paration in the different sectors lasted 12 to 30 
hours. Then followed the Russian bayonet 
attacks. As soon as the Russians entered the 
Austrian front trenches the Russian artillery 
developed a curtain fire which precluded all 
communication with the rear. The Austrians 
were trapped ; their fine deep trenches, covered 
with solid oaken timbers, fastened with cement, 
and surmounted by thick layers of earth, once 
the Russians had reached them, were cages, 
and death or surrender were the only alterna- 
tives for their occupants. During the first 

hours the enemy infantry, especially the 
Hungarians, fought furiously. Thousands 
were killed. Then their resistance began to 
slacken, and they began to surrender. On 
the first day alone the haul of Austrian prisoners 
amounted to 13,000. On the third day (June 
(i), by noon, the armies of General Brusiloff 
had taken prisoners 900 officers and over 
40,000 rank and file, and captured 77 guns and 
1 34 machine-guns. Further, 49 trench-mortars 
were captured, in addition to searchlights, 
telephones, field kitchens, and a large quantity 
of arms and material of war, with great reserves 
of ammunition. A number of batteries were 
taken intact with all their guns and limbers. 
As ammunition magazines are usually stationed 
about 10 miles behind the front trenches, the 
enormous hauls of the first days by themselves 
bear witness to the swiftness of the Russian 

The shortness of the bombardment preceding 
the attack and the simultaneous character of 
the operations along a front of about 250 miles 
were the novel features of the Russian offensive. 
The results brilliantly justified these new 
Russian tactics. "The, main element of our 
success," said General Brusiloff to Mr. Wash- 
burn, The Times correspondent, about a fort- 
night after the commencement of the Russian 
offensive, " was due to the absolute co-ordina- 
tion of all the armies involved and the carefully 
planned harmony with which the various 
branches of the service supported each other. 
On our entire front the attack began at the 
same hour, and it was impossible for the enemy 
to shift his troops from one quarter to another, 
as our attacks were being pressed equally at 
all points." 

The most important fighting and the most 
signal victory of those opening days occurred 
within the triangle of Volhynian fortresses. 
The original front in that district extended from 
about Tsiunan on the Putilovka, across the 
Rovno-Kovel railway, past Olyka — half-way 
between Rovno and Lutsk — and then a few 
miles east of Dubno across the Rovno -Brody 
line towards Kremieniets. The country north 
of the Rovno-Kovel railway is a sandy plain 
covered with swamps and woods ; south of 
Mlynoff the marshy course of the Ikva and the 
huge oak-forests, from which Dubno derives 
its name,* presented a serious barrier to an 

* " Dub " means in Kussian " oak." 



Cattle for the Army. 

advance of our Allies. The higher and more 
open country in the centre offered, however, 
tactical facilities for an offensive movement. 
On June 3-4 the entire sector between the 
Rivers Putilovka and Ikva was subjected to a 
vigorous bombardment, the advance being 
Dressed most vigorously due west from the 
district of Olyka, along the Rovno-Lutsk road, 
and from Mlynoff in a north-westerly direction. 
Thus the attack against the fortress of Lutsk 
itself was conducted along concentric lines. 
The brunt of the Russian onset was borne by 
the 10th (Hungarian) Division and the 2nd 
Division, composed largely of Slav troops. 
The attack on the very first day cut clean 
through their lines and Russian cavalry poured 
through the gaps. Large bodies of Austro- 
Hungarian troops between Olyka and the Ikva 
were cut off from all possibility of retreat, 
before they even knew that their front had 
been broken. On June 4, at headquarters at 
Lutsk, celebrations were held in honour of 
Archduke Frederick's birthday. The news of 
the disaster came like a thunderclap on the 
Austrian commanders. The 13th Division was 
thrown into the gap to hold up the Russian 
advance. It fared no better than its prede- 

cessors. The speed with which our Allies 
were moving beat all records. Almost to the 
last moment the Austrian commanders at 
Lutsk do not seem to have realized the full 
extent of their disaster. By June 6, two days 
after the advance had begun, the Russian forces 
had advanced more than 20 miles from their 
original positions. They were approaching 
Lutsk from two sides. Lutsk itself, in a strong 
natural position, covered on both wings by the 
deep and tortuous valley of the River Styr, 
had been changed in the course of the war into 
a regular fortress. Defences of enormous 
strength covered its approaches. Yet such 
was the demoralisation of the beaten Austro- 
Hungarian troops that they proved unable to 
offer any serious resistance. Their lines were 
broken through near Podgaytse a.nd near 
Krupy, and on June 6, at 8.25 p.m., the first 
Russian detachments entered Lutsk, which 
the commander of the Fourth Austro-Hun- 
garian Army, Archduke Joseph Ferdinand, had 
left only in the afternoon. The ancient town 
and the ruins of its magnificent old castle — in 
which the Polish king, Wladyslaw Jagiello, 
met in 1429 Vitold, Grand Duke of Lithuania, 
and Sigismund of Luxembourg, Emperor of 



Germany — suffered practically no damage, no 
serious fighting having occurred within that 
area. The panic among the enemy troops 
round Lutsk was such that at one point they 
left six 4 -in. guns without stopping to unload 
them, and many cases of shell were still along- 
side the weapons. In Lutsk itself considerable 
military stores fell into the hands of our 
Allies. Similarly the Austrians had not had 
the time to clear out the hospitals, and 
thus had to abandon thousands of their 

By June 8 the Russians had not merely 
reached the line of the Styr and the Ikva, but 
had even crossed it at many points. On the 
same day German reinforcements began to 
make their appearance. First to arrive was 
a scratch division gathered from the region 
of the Marshes, and including the 57th Land- 
wehr and the 39th and 268th Landsturm 
regiments. Subsequently the 18th, 81st, and 
several other German divisions, also from the 
northern area, were thrown into the Volhynian 
battle ; they were drawn mainly from the 
Dvina front- — e.g., the 22nd German Division — 
and from the Ninth German Army. Field - 
Marshal von Hindenburg could hardly dare to 
weaken his forces in front of Vilna. With the 
German reinforcements Genera] von Luden- 
dorff, Chief of Hindenburg's Staff, was sent to 
retrieve the Austrian fortunes. Von Linsingen 
was put in command of the Volhynian front. 
Yet it was not until full ten days after the 
Russian offensive had begun that its advance 
in Volhynia came to a halt, and then its arrest 
was due as much to the requirements of the 
Russian strategy as to the new armies which 
the Germanic allies had drawn together from 
all fronts. 

On June 8-9 the severest fighting raged 
round the two main crossings of the Rivers 
Styr and Ikva — namely, in the districts of 
Rozhyshche and Dubno, where the two chief 
railway lines (Rovno-Kovel and Rovno-Brody) 
pass over those rivers. Rozhyshche was, 
moreover, an important base town containing 
large military stores and a centre of com- 
munications ; it was here that the light Austrian 
field railways to Lutsk and to Kolki joined the 
main line. The Austrians, vigorously supported 
by fresh German reinforcements, offered a 
desperate resistance to the Russians who 
attacked Rozhyshche from the south-east. 
Still, under cover of heavy artillery fire, the 
Russian troops — recently formed units — crossed 

the Styr and drove out the enemy, taking 
numerous prisoners and booty. 

At the southern end of the Volhynian salient 
our Allies captured on the same day the fort 
and town of Dubno. Here, however, the work 
was not as easy as it had been at Lutsk, and the 
picturesque old town suffered very severe 
damage. Simultaneously with this advance 
another Russian detachment captured the 
Austrian point d'appui at Mlynoff (on the Ikva), 
crossed the river, and occupied the region of the 
village Demidovka. During the next few days 
they completely cleared of the enemy the 
forests which cover this region, thus securing the 
Lutsk salient from a sudden counter-offensive 
from the south. On June 13 they reached the 
village of Kozin, 18 miles south-west of Dubno 
and 9 miles west of the old battle front on the 

Due west of Lutsk the Russian advance was, 
meantime, progressing at considerable speed. 
A screen of cavalry was thrown out, and 
detachments of Cossacks were traversing the 
country in every direction. On June 12 our 
Allies reached Torchin, 18 miles west of Lutsk. 
The next day fierce fighting occurred near 
Zaturtsy, more than half-way from Lutsk to 
Vladimir- Volynsk. By June 16 the sweep of the 
Russian tide to the west in the Lutsk salient 
had attained its high-water mark. Their 
outposts occupied a wide semi-circle round 
Olyka, with a radius of about 45 miles. It 
stretched from about Kolki (on the Styr) in 
the north, then followed the Stochod from near 
Svidniki to the district of Kisielin, reached its 
farthest extension to the west in the sector 
Lokatchy-Sviniukhy-Gorokhoff, and then bent 
back to the east towards Kozin. 

It was on the two wings of that salient that 
the last considerable gains were effected during 
the first stage of the Russian offensive. The 
Germans were certain to start soon a counter- 
offensive. They were bringing up fresh troops 
not merely from the northern area, but even 
from France. They had to defend Kovel at any 
price. Its loss would have meant the cutting 
of the direct connexion between the northern 
and southern armies. In view of this strong 
gathering of the enemy a further advance in the 
centre towards Vladimir-Volynsk was clearly 
inadvisable. The enemy forces were being 
concentrated not only round Vladimir, but also 
on the wings. The flanks of the salient had 
therefore been secured. 

Tn the marshy district of Kolki, where so 



many pitched battles had been fought, in the 
autumn of 1915, the enemy was offering a 
tough resistance. Nevertheless progress was 
made by our Allies, and the village of Kolki 
itself was captured on June 13. The Austro- 
German troops were slowly retiring behind the 
Stochod. On June 16, however, the enemy 
attempted to counter the Russian advance 
near Gadomytche, some 6 miles west of Kolki, 
and also round Svidniki on the Stochod. A 
violent battle developed in the narrow sector 
where the courses of the Rivers Styr and 
Stochod approach within some 6 to 8 miles of 
one another. The German attacks were re- 
pulsed, and in pursuit of the retreating army 
a Siberian regiment, under Colonel Kisliy, 
crossed the Stochod near Svidniki, capturing 
an entire German battalion. In the same 
battle the Hussars of White Russia, supported 
by horse artillery, charged through three ex- 
tended lines of the enemy and sabred two 
Austrian companies. In the course of the 
next few days the counter-attacks of the 
enemy against Svidniki were repulsed, special 
mention in the Russian official cotnmunique 
being earned by a Cossack regiment under 
Colonel Smirnoff. 

Whilst the right wing of General Kaledin's 
Army was thus securing the Russian front 
round the Rovno-Kovel line, the extreme 
left, with the help of the adjoining wing of 
General Sakharoff's Army, was strengthening 
its positions in the district south-west of 
Dubno, on the Rovno-Brody railway. On 
June 15 General Sakharoff's troops conquered 
the Austrian positions on the River Plash- 
chevka, between Kozin and Tarnavka (the 
same region in which the famous Third Cau- 
casian Army Corps, under General Irmanoff, 
won its first victory over the Austrians in 
August, 1914). One of the newly formed 
Russian regiments under Colonel Tataroff, 
after a fierce fight, forded the river, with the 
water up to their chins. " One company was 
engulfed, and died an heroic death," says the 
Russian official communique of June 16, "but 
the valour of their comrades and their officers 
resulted in the disorderly flight of the enemy, 
of whom 70 officers and 5,000 men were taken 
prisoners." On June 16 our Allies entered 
Radziviloff, the Russian frontier -station on 
the Rovno-Brody-Lvoff railway, whilst to the 
south-east they reached the line Potohaiefi- 

An Austrian trench under a ruined house. 



Thus the 12 days of the Russian offensive 
in Volhynia resulted in an advance of 30 miles 
to the south-west of the recaptured fortress of 
Dubno, and of a similar distance to the north- 
west of Lutsk, the scene of their initial successes. 
The entire Volhynian triangle of fortresses 
was again in the hands of our Allies, whilst 
their outposts approached within some 25 miles 
of Kovel and reached the north-eastern border 
of Galicia in front of Brody. In the course of 
those 12 days the Army of General Kaledin 
alone took prisoners 1,309 officers, 10 surgeons, 
and 70,000 soldiers. It also captured 83 guns, 
236 machine-guns, and an enormous quantity 
ol war material. 

About the middle of June the pressure of 
the new German concentration was beginning 
to make itself felt in Volhynia, and resulted 
in about a fortnight of fierce but more or less 
stationary fighting. Besides the divisions from 
the northern area, previously mentioned, the 
Germans were bringing up reinforcements even 
from France, whilst the Austrians were with- 
drawing all available reserves from the Tyrol, 
the Italian front, and the Balkans, and from 
their bases in the interior. Naturally parts of 
these armies were detailed to the Tarnopol 
front, others were sent to hold the Dniester 
crossings, still others to guard the Carpathian 
passes leading into Transylvania. Yet the 
majoritv of these reinforcements were directed 

to Volhynia, to ward off the danger which was 
threatening Kovel and to prevent a further 
Russian advance on Lvoff. The desperate 
hurry in which these transfers were made is 
best shown by the fact, which the Russians 
learned from the note-book of a dead Austrian 
officer, that a German army corps had been 
moved from Verdun to Kovel in six days. 
But the Germans seem to have come soon to the 
end of their available reserves — and then our 
Allies resumed their offensive in Volhynia. 

" To illustrate the desperate shortage of the 
German armies," said General Alexeieff on 
July 22 to the Petrograd correspondent of 
The Times, " I need only recall the well-estab- 
lished fact that four divisions were hurried here 
from France soon after June 4, when our 
offensive began. These were the 19th and 20th. 
forming the 10th Active Corps, and the 11th 
Bavarian and 43rd Reserve Divisions. We 
were expecting the 44th - Division, but it did 
not appear. As usual, the Germans had under- 
rated French powers of resistance. Although 
17 divisions remain before Verdun, the enemy 
found it impossible to move another man 
hither, and as soon as the British armies 
advanced all idea of transferring troops had to 
be abandoned. The units confronting us 
represent the maximum effort of Germany. 
They are being moved about along the Russian 
front, chiefly to the southward, in order to fill 



up the tremendous gap caused by the over- 
throw of the Austrians. Not a single fresh 
unit has been produced by the enemy. Two 
badly mauled divisions withdrawn from Verdun 
constitute the strategical reserve of the German 
Army. ' ' 

On June 16 the counter-offensive of the 
enemy against the Lutsk salient began on the 
entire front. The German operations which 
had Kovel for their base were directed mainly 
against the Stochod-Styr sector, whilst the 
Austrians, supported by some German troops, 
were fighting in front of Vladimir-Volynsk, 
Sokal and Stoyanoff, attacking the Lokatehy- 
Sviniukhy-Gorokhoff line. Before the persis- 
tent, violent German onslaughts our Allies had 
to withdraw their troops from the western 
bank of the Stochod near Svidniki. Then a 
furious battle ensued on the front extending 
from Sokal by Gadomitche, Linievka, Voron- 
chin to Kieselin. On June 19 the fighting 
resulted in a marked success for our Allies, 
who captured considerable numbers of prisoners. 
The engagements continued unabated on the 
following day. "The village of Gruziatyn 
(two miles north of Gadomitche)," says the 
Petrograd official communique of June 22, 
" changed hands" several times. Yesterday 
afternoon our troops raided the village, cap- 
turing 11 officers, 400 men, and 6 machine-guns. 
Nevertheless the heavy German fire once more 
obliged us to evacuate the village." On the 
same day, German attacks near Voronchin 
and Raymiesto were completely defeated, and 
the enemy ■ was compelled to withdraw in 
haste. The battle was renewed during the 
next few days, losing, however, gradually in 

No less violent was the enemy's counter- 
offensive against the apex of the Lutsk salient. 
"In the region of the village of Rogovitchi, 
south-east of the village of Lokatchy (four 
miles south of the high road from Lutsk to 
Vladimir - Volynsk)," says the Petrograd 
official communique of June 19, " the Austrians 
attacked our troops in massed formations, and, 
breaking through one sector of the fighting 
front, captured three guns of a battery which 
bravely resisted until the last shell had been 
fired. Reinforcements came up and routed 
the advancing enemy, recapturing one gun,* 
taking prisoners 300 soldiers and capturing 
two macliine-guns." 

* The recapture of the other two guns is mentioned in 
the report of June 20. 


, ■ 






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^ktf^ffliltfgKk',, ' 






Similar and even more successful fighting was 
reported under the same date from the Svini- 
ukliy and the Gorokhoff fronts. In those 
sectors the enemy was put to flight, losing 
heavily in prisoners. 

Further encounters were reported in the 
course of the following few days. Having 
inflicted some more or less sensible reverses 
on the enemy, our Allies gradually withdrew 
their line in the centre about five miles. The 
western and south-western front of the salient 
were slightly flattened out, being withdrawn 
on to the Zaturtsy-Bludoff-Shklin-Lipa line. 
Here, also, about June 24, the fighting began to 
show signs of slackening. 

In the last days of the month the Austro- 
German armies resumed the counter-offensive 
with redoubled fury. Desperate attempts 
were made to drive wedges into the Russian 
front on the Linievka-Kobchi line in the north, 
near Zaturtsy in the centre, and round Ugrinoff 




in the south. " During these operations," 
wired Mr. Washburn from General Kaledin's 
Headquarters under date of July 1 , " the conflict 
has been ranging over the entire front of this 
army without the enemy gaining a success 
anywhere. It is stated that they have never 
thrown forward such continuous masses of 
troops heretofore in their efforts to break 
through." A vast concentration of heavy 
artillery, up to and including 8-in. calibre, with 
quantities of ammunition which were stated 
never to have been equalled in volume within 

Russian experience, was used in those battles. 
Yet the Russian line nowhere wavered, and 
the enemy's counter-offensive ended in failure. 
The meaning of that last desperate attempt 
at driving in the Lutsk salient is obvious. 
The Germans undoubtedly must have known 
of the new Russian concentrations between 
the big marshes and Kolki, where on July 4 the 
army of General Lesh was to assume the 
offensive, and of the near renewal of activities 
by General Sakharoff, in front of Brody. 
They also knew that a British offensive was 



imminent in the West. They had, therefore, 
to seek an immediate decision in Volhynia or 
to give up their attempts at regaining the line 
of the Styrand Ikva. The fateful day came 
upon them both in the East and in the West, 
before they had been able to achieve their 
design in Volhynia. 

The East-Galieian front, in .Time, 1916, fell 
approximately into two divisions, which might 
best be described as the Tarnopol and the 
Butchatch sectors, the frontier between them 
lying in the district of Burkanoff. North of 
this boundary the ground is undulating, 
wooded, the valleys marshy, and the, rivers 
widen out at many points into ponds and 
small lakes. Round Zalostse and Vorobiyovks., 
the course of the Sereth and of its tributaries 
and the intervening hills offered excellent 
opportunities for defence ; south of Kozloff, 
the Strypa was in the main the front between 
the opposing armies. Below Burkanoff the 
aspect of the country changes completely. It 
rises into a high plateau, cut by many deep 
river canons, with steep banks ; marshes are 

naturally very few, forests cover mainly the 
sides of the canons, occasionally extending on 
to the surrounding plain. These are the natural 
lines of defence in Southern Podolia. In front 
and south of Butchatch, the Austrians possessed, 
moreover, quite exceptionally favourable con- 
ditions for defence. On a stretch of about 12 
miles the stream Olekhoviets runs parallel to 
the River Strypa at a distance of only about a 
mile to the east ; the country intervening 
between these two river canons lies like a 
rampart in front of the Strypa line, whilst the 
wooded, rocky sides of the winding canons, 
frequently bordered by stone quarries, offer 
most excellent opportunities for fortifications, 
ambuscades, gun emplacements, and enfilading 
positions. The eastern approaches of the 
Trybukhovtse-Yasloviets front (as the line of 
the Olekhoviets was usually called from the 
two chief localities on its banks) are open 
fields ; there are but few depressions, and no 
woods on 'the high plateau which intervenes 
between it and the canon of the Dzhuryn. In 
the extreme south, near the Dniester, south of 
the Ustsietchko-Shutromintse-Yasloviets road 

To envelope their retreat in smoke, the Austro-German forces set on fire villages and crops along) 

their line. 


the ground presents serious difficulties for 
military operations on a large scale. 

On June 4, 1910, the main Russian attacks 
were directed against the Tsebroff-Yorobiyovka 
sector, the gate on the Tarnopol-Krasne-Lvoff 
railway ; against the district of Burkanoff 
and against the Trybukhovtse-Yasloviets line, 
guarding the approaches to Butchatch and the 
Butehatch-Nizhnioff-Stanislavoff railway. In 
front of Tarnopol, in spite of most heroic 
achievements on the part of the Russian troops, 
supported in that quarter by a detachment of 
Belgian armoured cars, under Major Semet, very 
little ground was gained. The defensive posi- 
tions of the Austrians were exceedingly strong, 
and the immediate neighbourhood of the 
Tarnopol -Lvoff railway, one of the best in 
Eastern Europe (it was part of the Berlin- 
Odessa line), offered them many advantages. 
"Whether the leadership of the Bavarian general, 
Count Bothmer, contributed in any way to the 
success of the defence — as was hinted by Ger- 
man writers — is a subject which may best be 
left for discussion to Mittel-Europa itself. The 
story, however, that it was due mainly to the 
" heroism " of the German soldiers can be 
dismissed, as there were very few of them on the 
Upper Strypa, the majority of the troops en- 
gaged having been West Galician regiments, 
especially Polish mountaineers from the Tatra 
and Beskid Mountains. In the Burkanoff- 
Bobulintse sector, as a result of a series of battles 
which proceeded throughout the first ten days of 
the Russian offensive, our Allies drove the 
enemy out of any positions which he held on the 
eastern bank of the Strypa and even gained on 
a considerable front the opposite side of the 
river. The most signal success attended, 
however, the operations of General Shcherba- 
tieff's Army in the region of Butchatch. As the 
result of an intense artillery preparation, 
followed by infantry attacks, our Allies had 
carried, by June 7, the entire line of the 
Olekhoviets and reached the ridge between that 
stream and the Strypa. After further bitter 
fighting the Russians, at dawn on June 8, 
entered Butchatch itself, and, developing their 
success, captured the same day the villages of 
Stsianka and Potok Zloty, a few miles to the 
west of the Lower Strypa. In Potok Zloty our 
Allies seized a large artillery park and consider- 
able quantities of shells ; near Ossovitse (north 
of Butchatch) a complete battery of 4/4 in. 
howitzers ; they also took in the same neigh- 
bourhood many prisoners, including the staff 

of an Austrian battalion. After a week's 
progress their advance in that region came, 
however, to a halt, for reasons explained in our 
general strategic survey of the first phase of the 
Russian offensive. It was not resumed until 
the first days of July, in conjunction with the 
very considerable conquests of ground south of 
the Dniester. 

The problem with which General Lechitsky 
was faced in his attack against the Bukovina 
was by no means an easy one to solve. From 
the north, where the Russian positions extended 
about 40 miles farther west than in the Buko- 
vina, that country is protected by the belt of 
the Dniester. Of the three bridge-heads 
across it, only the most westerly, that of 
I'stsietchko,* was in the hands of our Allies ; 
it was the least important, as the topographical 
configuration of its surroundings hardly admits 
movements of any considerable forces across 
the river at that point. It could serve as gate 
for cavalry or minor detachments, not as an 
opening for an invasion by a whole army. 
The most important bridgehead of Zaleshchyki, 
where both a road and a railway cross the 
Dniester, was entirely in the possession of the 
Austrian army ; the enemy held also the 
strong defensive positions which on the northern 
bank cover the approaches to the river. There 
remained the bridgehead of Ustsie Biskupie, 
where the river separated the opposing armies. 
At this point, however, the Russians had a 
decisive advantage : the southern bank (held 
by the Austrians) is low, and can be dominated 
and taken under cross-fire by artillery posted 
on the high northern bank of the Dniester 
loop.')" This sector was indeed to play a most 
important part in General Lechitsky's offensive 
against the Bukovina. 

Towards the east between the Rivers Dniester 
and Pruth the northern corner of the Buko- 
vina borders for about 20 miles on Bessarabia ; 
south of the Pruth Rumanian territory pro- 
tected the flank of General von Pflanzer- 
Battin's Army. Most of what appears on the 
map like a gap between the two rivers js in 
reality blocked by a range of liills, called the 
Berdo Horodyshche, and rising 300-800 feet 

* At Ustsietchko both banks of the Dniester are 
Galician ground. There has been some confusion among 
British writers concerning the western frontier of the 
Bukovina, and it may therefore be worth emphasising 
that the towns of Horodenka, Sniatyn, and Kuty are 
all three in Galicia, and that Kolomea lies no less than 
35 miles west of the Bukovina border. 

t A description of the Okna-Onut depression was given 
in Chapter LXXXV.. p. 14i. 




New recruits passing through 

above the valley of the Pruth.* Only in the 
northern corner, between Dobronovtse and 
Okna, in the valley of the Onut, does the range 
drop into a small plain. This plain, which 
was to become the opening for the Russian 
offensive, is almost isolated on the southern 
and south-eastern sides, where, on Russian 
ground, the wooded hills extend to the very 
canon of the Dniester. Not even a secondary 
road approached Okna or Dobronovtse from 
that direction. An advance from Bessarabia 
seemed, therefore, to be fraught with almost 
insuperable difficulties. Yet. having found 
during their operations on the Toporovtse- 
Rarantche front in January, 1916, that the 
defences of the Berdo Horodyshche could 
not be forced to any appreciable extent 
by a frontal attack, our Allies decided to 
attempt the seemingly impossible, and to open 
their offensive by a concentric attack against 
the north-eastern corner of the Bukovina. 
It must be accounted one of the most extra- 
ordinary achievements of the Russian troops 
in that district that they were able, to carry 
out their vast preparations in that diffi- 
cult region without being noticed by the 
enemy. From the west the access to (hat 
sector is extremely easy, and even if the 
depression of Okna could not have been held, 

* Of. the description of that, sector given in Chapte 
CX.. pp. 114-HB. 

a town to join the Russian Army. 

with reasonable foresight the Austrians ought 
to have been able to offer effective resistance 
on the Toutry-Yurkovtse-Dobronovtse line. 
But they seem to have been caught by surprise. 
On June 2 the Russians began to bombard 
the Austrian positions at Okna ; in the after- 
noon of the following day the fire increased 
considerably in violence, and on June 4 the 
first infantry attacks were launched across the 
river. The Austrian troops withdrew about 
3 miles south of the Okna position on to Hills 
233 and 238. About the same time our Allies 
opened their attacks against Dobronovtse. As 
soon as the plan of the Russian offensive had 
been disclosed, it became clear that an abso- 
lutely decisive battle was being fought in that 
secluded north-eastern corner of the Bukovina. 
Some of the best Hungarian troops were sent 
against the Russians ; some of the best Magyar 
blood was shed in this desperate contest on the 
ramparts before the gates opening into Transyl- 
vania.* After four days of fighting the 

* Among the casualties of the battle of Okna was 
Count Julius Esterhazy, the third member of that 
family to be killed in the war. He was a man of 47, yet 
had volunteered for the army as a, private. Whatever 
one may think about Magyar policy and the heavy 
burden of guilt which it bore in this war, their patriotism 
deserves the fullest praise. Whilst the Viennese 
aristocracy from the very beginning left, the hard work 
of fighting to evidently less precious members of society, 
and whilst the Prussian Junkers for the most part dis- 
creetly withdrewfrom the front and busied themselves, for 
instance, with guarding the Dutch border, the Magyar 
aristocracy continued to fight and bleed for their country. 



defence of the enemy began to weaken. By 
June 9 liis position was practically hopeless. 
" In spite of a desperate resistance on the part 
of the enemy." says the Petrograd official 
communique of June 11, " a violent flanking 
fire, and even curtain fire, and the explosions 
of whole sets of mines, General Lechitsky's 
troops captured the enemy's position south of 
Dobronovtse, 14 miles north-east of Czerno- 
vitz. In that region alone we captured 
18,000 soldiers, one general, 347 officers, and 
10 guns, and at the time this report was sent 
off prisoners were still streaming in in large 

On the same day the Austrians blew up the 
railway station at Yurkovtse. A wedge had been 
driven into the enemy front between the Rivers 
Dniester and Pruth, the positions of the Berdo 
Horodyshche were turned, the bridgehead of 
Zaleshchyki. one of the proudest re-conquests 
of the Austrian armies in that region — dearly 
paid for in blood — had suddenly lost all strategic 
value : the Russians were now in possession of 
the ground both north and south of Zaleshchyki. 
By June 12 our Allies held the bridgehead itself, 
and even the village of Horodenka, the junction 
of six first-class high roads (including one 
leading by Ustsietchko to Tchortkoff). All 

gates into Northern Bukovina were now wide 
open and safe against any counter-attack by 
the enemy. The greater part of the defeated 
army of General von Pflanzer-Baltin had to 
seek safety beyond the Pruth ; his front now 
extended east and west, thus leaving only 
weaker detachments north of the Pruth, on the 
road towards Kolomea. Our Allies made the 
fullest use of their opportunities. They were 
advancing rapidly. The following is the account 
of those clays given in a Polish paper by a land- 
owner from the neighbourhood of Sniatyn : 
"During the night of June 12-13, terrific 
artillery fire was heard in the town. Somewhere 
near a battle was raging. For the third or 
fourth time since the beginning of the war we 
were passing through that experience. I went 
to the army-command to ask advice. A staff- 
captain had just arrived with news from the 
front. The Austrian troops were resisting. 
Still, after the front between the Dniester and 
Pruth had once been broken there was no other 
natural line for resistance. According to the 
accounts of the Austrian officers, the Russian 
artillery was, with magnificent bravery, driving 
up to new positions, thus preventing our men 
from entrenching and preparing a new line. 
" ' How long can we hold out ? ' was my 

A Russian patrol reporting at Headquarters after a raid. 



A gun captured from a regiment of Prussian Grenadiers. 

question. The old general looked at me and 
answered : ' Only our rearguards are now 
engaged ; our forces are gathering a few miles 
from here. If our flank near Horodenka holds 
out overnight we shall not evacuate the town.' 

" I returned to Sniatyn. . . . Small groups 
of inhabitants were standing about the streets, 
commenting on the news. Artillery and ammu- 
nition were at full speed passing through the 
town for the front. A few regiments of infantry 
marched through at night. , . . The horizon 
was red with the glow of fires. For the third 
time our poor villages were burning. Whatever 
had survived previous battles was now given up 
to the flames. Homeless refugees, evacuated 
from the threatened villages, were passing with 
their poor, worn-out horses and their cows — all 
their remaining wealth. In perfect silence ; no 
one complained ; it had to be. . . . Mysterious 
cavalry patrols and despatch-riders were riding 
through the streets. No one slept that night. . . . 

" In the morning the first military transports 
passed through the town. The retreat had 
begun. Questions were asked. The Magyar 
soldiers quietly smoked their pipes ; there was 
no way for us of understanding one another. 
Only one of them, who knew a few German 
words, explained ' Russen, stark, stark, Masse ' 

(' Russians, strong, strong, a great mass ').... 
The approaching violent fire of heavy guns was 
even more enlightening. Our trained ears 
could distinguish their voices. Like a con- 
tinuous thunder was the roar of the Japanese 
(Russian) guns ; at intervals they were 
answered nervously by the Austrian artillery. 

" Suddenly the gun-fire stopped and the 
expert ear could catch the rattling of machine 
guns. The decisive attack had begun. All 
a-strain, we were awaiting news. Some soldiers 
appeared round the corner of the road, slightly 
wounded. . . . Then a panic began. Someone 
had come from a neighbouring village reporting 
that he had seen Cossacks. Soon refugees front 
the villages outside were streaming through the 
town. General confusion. Children were crying, 
women sobbing. A mass flight began. Again 
cavalry and despatch-riders. Then a drum was 
heard in the square. It was officially given out 
that the situation was extremely grave and 
that whoever wished to leave the town had 
better do so immediately. 

"We had to go. As I was mounting the 
carriage I perceived in the distance, near the 
wood on the hill, a few horsemen with long 
lances — Cossacks from Kuban. They were 
slowly emerging from the forest and approach- 











ing the town. ' Drive ahead ! ' I shouted to the 

On June 13 the Russians entered Sniatyn for 
the third time in the course of the war. 

The Austrians soon came to see that, at least 
in this part of the country, the game was up. 
Near Niezviska, north-west of Horodenka, on 
the Kolomea-Butchatch road, in the biggest of 
the Dniester loops, they had been constructing 
a new bridge across the river. It was meant 
to become one of the most important bridge- 
heads, safely covered against attacks from the 
north by the two narrow necks of the river 
loop. Once the Dniester line had been turned 
from the south the position at Niezviska lost 
all value, just as had that of Zaleshchyki. The 
bridge, a structure some 40 feet high, was 
now destroyed by its builders. Farther back 
to the west, at Tlumatch, Ottynia, and Kolomea 
measures were taken for the evacuation of the 
civilian population. The Austrian officials were 
leaving the towns, and all men of military age 
were compelled to join in the flight ; in many 
cases their families followed them, and a new 
wave of refugees was rolling towards the 
west. To many of them, with characteristic 
egotism and heartlessness, Hungary closed its 

No less hopeless, in the long run, was the 
position of the Austrians south of the Pruth. 
The strong line of the river made it possible 
for them to hold up the Russian advance for a 
few days. Yet no illusion could be entertained 
concerning the ultimate issue of the struggle 
for Czernovitz. On Sunday, June 11, at 6 a.m., 
an official proclamation, signed by Herr von 
Tarangul, Chief of the Czernovitz police, was 
posted on the walls announcing that on the same 
day the town was expected to come under the 
fire of the Russian guns. What a sudden change ! 
After a break of a year and a half, the University 
of Czernovitz, the farthest outpost of German 
Kultur in the East, had just resumed its 
work.* Its Pan-German Professors, who in the 
summer of 1915 had been celebrating noisy 
festivities of " brotherhood in arms " (Waffeu- 
bruderschafl) with German officers, had now 
shown their sure military instinct by appoint- 
ing Archdukes Frederick, Eugene and Joseph 

* German was the language at the University cf 
Czernovitz, although 40 per cent, of the population of 
the Bukovina are Little Russians, 35 per cent. Rou- 
manians, 13 per cent. Jews, 3 per cent. Poles (mainly of 
Armenian extraction), and only about 9 per cent. 
Germans. These Germans are concentrated mainly in 
the town and direct neighbourhood of Czernovitz. 




The principal street, through which the troops are passing, called Emperor Nicholas Street, was renamed 
by the Austrians Emperor Franz Josef Street. 

Ferdinand, and also General Conrad von 
Hoetzendorf , ' ' honorary doctors ' ' of the 
University. Even the fatal day of June 4 
was still meant to be at Czernovitz a day of 
festivities. The town was beflagged as " an 
Imperial Eagle in Iron " (em Reichsaar in 
Eisen) was unveiled at the Ratfiaus " in memory 
of the time of Russian occupation " (zur 
Erinnerung an die Eussenzeit). The wide town- 
square was filled with people, and General von 
Pflanzer-Baltin himself was expected. But 
then in the afternoon, whilst the artillery fire 
in the north, in the direction of Okna and 
Dobronovtse, was getting louder and louder, a 
despatch-rider arrived with the following mes- 
sage, which was read out to the expectant 
crowds in the square : " His Excellency General 
von Pflanzer-Baltin is prevented from taking 
part in the festivities of to-day, and gives 
notice of his absence." 

Six days later crowds were again filling the 
town-square — no longer to " commemorate " 
the Russian occupation of Czernovitz. " On 
Saturday, June 10, at 6 p.m.," wrote a cor- 
respondent of the Polish daily Gazeta Wieczorna 

(Lvoff), who spent in Czernovitz the fatal 
ten days in June, " military transports began 
to traverse the main streets of the town, 
moving from the direction of the bridgehead of 
Zhuchka towards Starozhyniets. It was an 
interminable chain of all kinds of vehicles, 
from huge, heavy motor lorries down to light 
gigs driven by army officers. The waves of 
war were rolling through the city. 

" As if at a given sign the town-square filled 
with people. Frightened, searching eyes were 
asking for an explanation. Terrifying news 
began to circulate, the excited imagination of 
the crowd was at work. Mysterious informa- 
tion was passed from mouth to mouth, yet no 
one knew anything definite. A fever got hold 
of the town. . . . With bags, boxes and 
baskets people were hurrying to the railway 
station. ' Is an " evacuation -train " leaving, 
and when ? ' they were asking with the persis- 
tence of desperation. The hours were moving 
slowly, and the night came over the city, full 
of despondency and gloom. 

' ' And still the endless military transports 
were traversing the streets. But no longer was 




any notice taken of them. . . . The guns were 
playing, the excitement was growing. At 
7 p.m. the civilian authorities received the 
order of evacuation. Everything was to be 
ready for the train at 6 a.m. which, besides 
Government property, was to carry off the 
railway employees and their families. 

" The coffee-houses were filling with people. 
. . . All Government officials put on their 
uniforms, all Government authorities, even the 
police, granted leave to their employees, 
demanding no more than a show of the per- 
formance of official duties. The town cor- 
poration paid out to its officers two months' 
salaries and sent them off to Sutchava, where 
all the evacuated Government authorities were 
going. No official was, however, to leave the 
Bukovina wit'hout permission. (The fact which 
naturally is not mentioned in this account is 
that, before leaving the town, the Austrian 
authorities arrested a number of prominent 
citizens of Russian or Rumanian nationality 
— among them the Greek-Orthodox Archbishop 
Dr. Repta — and carried them away to Dorna 
Vatra, and subsequently farther on to the 
interior. ) 

" The command of the army corps from 
Sadagora (4 miles north of Czernovitz, on tie 
opposite side of the Pruth) took up quarters at 
the ' Black Eagle ' Hotel. 

" Suddenly — no one knows how — the news 
spread that the army-group of General Papp 
had evacuated its positions and was retreating. 
Even the hour of the event was known. The 
information was correct. . . . The greatest 
optimists now gave up all hope. . . . The 
safety of the Bukovina was closely connected 
with the name of General Papp. . . . 

" The grey dawn found the city in full 
flight. . . . The streets were filled with crowds, 
the tramcars were carrying wounded soldiers, as 
at the order of the army-command the evacua- 
tion of the military hospitals had been started. 
The square before the railway station was 
closely packed with people, but the police were 
admitting only railway officials. The women 
were begging, crying, lifting up their children. 
They had to wait — that train was not meant 
for them. 

" At 8 a.m. the first evacuation train left the 
city. The next was due at noon, or at 3 p.m. 
Many people preferred to fly by foot, as the 
prices of cabs and cars had risen to an incredible 
height. The artillery fire was drawing closer 
and closer, and above the heads of the crowd 

appeared a Russian aviator. Their hearts were 
shaking with fear. . . . 

" The prices of goods in the town were falling 
rapidly. Tobacco and cigarettes, which pre- 
viously were hardly to be had anywhere, were 
offered at half-price without any restrictions. 
Women from the suburbs who, not knowing 
what had happened, had brought their vege- 
tables to the market, were selling them for a 
third of the usual price, only to be able to return 
to their homes and children. For the merchants 
in Czernovitz the evacuation was a catastrophe. 
As they had been supplying the army with 
goods, they had gathered stores valued at 
millions of crowns. None of them could be 
carried away ; only Government property was 
being removed. 

' ' The news that the town would soon come 
under fire led to a sheer panic. The crowd in 
front of the station was seized with frenzy. 
Against the resistance of the officials it forced 
its way into the station and invaded a half- 
empty military train. The same happened in 
the case of the next train, and to all the 
following ones. In the course of Sunday 
6 to 8,000 people left Czernovitz. . . ." 

By June 13 our Allies had reached the Pruth 
on the entire front from Nepokoloutz to Boyan. 
The Austrians had evacuated Sadagora, and, 
withdrawing across the river, had blown up the 
bridge at Mahalla. They effected their retreat, 
not without very heavy losses both in men and 
material. At Sadagora the Russians seized a 
large store of engineering material and an 
aerial railway. Reviewing the entire captures 
made by the army of General Lechitsky since 
the beginning of the operations, the Russian 
official communique of June 13 stated that his 
troops alone had taken prisoners 3 com- 
manders of regiments, 754 other officers, 
37,832 soldiers, and had captured 120 machine 
guns, 49 guns, 21 trench mortars, and 11 mine- 

For three days the Austrian forces were 
holding up the Russian advance across the 
Pruth. They were considerably favoured by 
topographical conditions. On the southern bank 
a range of hills rises above the flat Pruth 
valley ; they command all the passages across 
it. Hence the forcing of the river was by no 
means an easy task : it was achieved by our 
Allies on June 16. The same night the Austrians 
began the first military evacuation of Czerno- 
vitz, and on June 17, at 4 p.m., Russian troops 
entered the town, and were received with j o y by 



their own compatriots and the Rumanians (in 
so far as they had not been " evacuated " by the 
Austrian authorities). As a matter of fact, the 
town had suffered very little ; although it had 
been for almost a week within the range of the 
Russian guns, it had not " come under their 
fire." Only the main railway station had been 
shelled and destroyed (to the " Volksgarten " 
station the Austrians themselves had set fire 
after the last " evacuation train " had left it on 
June 17, at 2.30 a.m.), and some streets near the 
Pruth had been slightly damaged during the 
battle for the river crossings. TheVicar-General 
of Czernovitz, Herr Sclrmid himself, in an 
interview with the Vienna Reichspost, denied 
the stories about the destruction of Czernovitz 
circulated by certain German and Austrian 
journalists. " The tales about the residence of 
the Greek-Orthodox Archbishop and the centre 
of the town having been shelled and destroyed 
are inventions. Altogether six civilians have 
been wounded during the bombardment." One 
sincerely wishes a similar account could have 
been given of Reims or Ypres. 

On the occupation of Czernovitz, Colonel 
Bromoff was appointed commander of the 
city, whilst Dr. George Sandru, the Greek- 
Orthodox vicar of the Paraskieva Church — a 
native of Czernovitz of Rumanian nationality 
— was entrusted with its civilian administration 
until the return of Dr. Bocancea. (The latter, 
a local Rumanian barrister, had been mayor 
of Czernovitz during the second Russian occupa- 
tion, November 27, 1914-February 22, 1915, 
and had then withdrawn with the Russian 

The piercing of the Dniester-Pruth front had 
knocked out the keystone of the Austrian defen- 
sive system in the south. It had practically cut 
off the army of General von Pflanzer-Baltin from 
that of General Count Bothmer. Then the 
forcing of the Pruth line tlrrew back the troops 
of Pflanzer-Baltin on to the Carpathian passes ; 
the forces gathered in front of Kolomea, 

Stanislavoff, and the Dniester crossings passed 
henceforth under Bothmer's command. 

The line of the River Sereth (not to be con- 
fused with another river in Galicia bearing the 
same name) was the only one south of the 
Pruth on which the Austro-Hungarian troops 
might have held up the advance of our Allies, 
had they been given time to organize their 
defences. But the Russians allowed them no 
respite. On June 18 they had already reached 
Starozhyniets, south of which the so-called 
" Transylvanian road " crosses the Sereth. On 
the same day our Allies captured also the town 
of Kutclmrmare. On June 19 they crossed 
the Sereth, and on the 21st they entered 
Radautz, 30 miles south of Czernovitz. At the 
same time other Russian detachments were 
advancing to the west, up the valley of the 
Tcheremosh (a confluent of the Pruth) past 
Vizlmits, towards Kuty. Retiring in haste 
before them, the Austrians set fire to the new 
big bridge over the river. On June 22 our 
Allies entered Kuty, and during the next few 
days hacked their way through past Kossoff 
to Pistyn. From three sides, from the north- 
east, the east, and the south-east, they were 
now closing in on Kolomea. 

In the Bukovina itself the Russian advance 
was, meantime, continuing with amazing 
speed. Within 24 hours of the capture of 
Pvadautz, our Allies entered Gora Humora, 
some 20 miles farther to the south. By the 
evening of June 23 they had taken, after a 
fierce struggle, the town of Kimpolung, cap- 
turing about GO officers and 2,000 men, and 
7 machine-guns. Thus practically the whole of 
the Bukovina had passed again into the hands 
of the Russians. As the result of a three weeks' 
campaign, they had conquered a province 
more than half as large as Wales, a province 
dearly loved by the Austrian-Germans as a 
reputed outpost of Deutschtum in the East, 
highly valued by the Magyars as a rampart 
covering Transylvania. 



Position at End of April, 1916 — The Fourth Month of the Battle — Political Situation in 
France — A Secret Session of the Chamber — M. Briand's Position Strengthened — Fighting 
on the Left Bank of the Meuse — Avocourt Wood, Hill 304, and the Mort Homme — French 
Attack on Dotjaumont — Changes in Command — General Nivelle — General Mangin — 
Destruction of German Observation Balloons — Heavy Fighting Described — The Mort 
Homme Again — German Progress at the End of May — Enormous Loss of Life — The Fall 
of Vaux — Major Raynal's Heroic Defence — Fresh German Assaults — Situation at Fleury 
— Co-ordination of Allied Strategy — Preparation of the Franco -British Offensive on 
the Somme — Effect on the Verdun Battle. 

THE issue at Verdun, once the first 
German plan of overwhelming the 
Meuse fortress by weight and by 
surprise had been abandoned as 
being impossible of attainment, was mainly a 
question of time. 

The Germans sought feverishly to rain blow 
after blow upon the French ; to attract to the 
Meuse front the French general reserves, and 
so to pound the French Army as to render it 
incapable of giving any really solid assistance 
to the British offensive on the Somme which in 
June, to the knowledge even of the man in the 
street, was inevitably imminent. The months 
of May and June, 1916, were in this respect 
decisive. The French by the valour of their 
infantry, by the skill of their leadership, by 
the growing strength of their heavy artillery, 
were able during this period, not only to defend 
Verdun and gain time for their British Allies 
to bring the weight of their mobilized resources 
to bear upon the northern front, but also to 
avoid the extensive loss, the utter crippling, 
which their enemy sought to inflict upon them. 
Not only was Verdun, or what remained of it, 
still in French hands when the British began 
their great offensive on the Somme, but in that 
offensive the French triumphantly showed 
that their reserves of men and of material were 
Vol. IX.— Part 106. 41 

still capable of supporting the double action of 
defence on the Meuse and offence on the 
Somme. This result was not achieved without 
great labour, without stern heroism. 

The fourth month of the battle for Verdun 
was ushered in by some of the fiercest fighting 
of the war. Worn-out troops — or rather men 
who, according to all the tests of human 
resistance, should have been worn out — were 
called upon to furnish an effort of resistance 
greater than any up till then demanded of an 
army. There was more than that. The 
enemy at the outset of the war had clearly 
shown by the nature of his propaganda, by 
the tone of his Press comment, that he still 
possessed a notion of French psychology 
dating from the terrible year of 1870. He 
still imagined, as was shown in a hundred ways, 
that the French were incapable of bearing 
defeat. This idea he extended both to the 
army and to the civilian population. Especially 
was it a firmly-fixed idea of the Germans 
that when every other ally played them false 
they would be able to count upon the pas- 
sionate blindness of the French politician. 

There can be no mistake about the Verdun 
battle. It cost the French very dear. There 
was hardly a village throughout the country 
which had not contributed to the glory of its 



General Joffre visits General Nivelle (on right), 

defence. In spite of a censorship which at 
times and in certain ways took too timorous 
a view of the character of the French civilian, 
the country as a whole knew only too well 
what was the price of glory on the Meuse. 
It may be easy for a demagogue to declare 
from the comparative safety of a public plat- 
form that a country prefers death to slavery, 
but when the icy fingers of death seem to be 
feeling at the heart of everyone in a country, 
only true courage, only the purest patriotism, 
can support the strain. The strain placed 
upon the French by the continuance of the 
Verdun fighting was manifold. There were 
moments when all seemed lost. It became 
a commonplace both in France and in Great 
Britain to say that the peoples of the 
two countries had shown themselves infinitely 
superior to their Governments. Great though 
were the services of the French Parlia- 
ment to the common cause, it is equally 
true to say that the French Parliament in its 


who in May, 1916, succeeded General Petain. 

main manifestations did not adequately repre- 
sent the courage and steadfastness of the con- 
stituencies. There were occasions when Par- 
liament, which knowing little feared much, 
seemed likely to leap the barriers of common- 
sense and embark upon political and mili- 
tary adventures of an extremely hazardous 
nature. That temptation became increas- 
ingly strong during the months of May and 
June, when the nature and conditions of the 
early part of the Verdun battle became generally 

The whole of France knew more or less 
directly that mistakes had been committed. It 
was but natural that there should be a clamour 
for enquiry and for remedy. It is to the honour 
of French Parliamentarism that this demand 
never went outside the limits of common-sense. 
The French Deputy showed the enemy clearly 
that all his calculations founded upon political 
internal disruption were based upon false 



There was another and more subtle strain. 
British propaganda — a propaganda destined to 
inform France of the real nature of British effort 
and achievement — had been singularly in- 
effective. It seemed as though the British 
Government was unable or unwilling to 
attempt to set on foot any adequate machinery 
for supplying the friendly French Press with a 
proper service of British news which would give 
to the bulk of the country a real notion of the 
extent of the wholehearted cooperation of 
Great Britain in the war as well as of the value 
of the services already rendered by the British 

The ordinary Frenchman of 1916 was able to 
converse with complete fluency and with some 
intelligence about a number of Continental 
problems which had never tired the brains of 
his British colleague. But when it came to an 
understanding of British conditions, of British 
character, and of the unvarying nature of British 
foreign policy, there was as much ignorance in 
France as was displayed in those circles in 
England — fortunately limited — which before the 
war feared the recrudescence of a jingo France. 
The French had been told of the efforts made 
to recruit the British Army. They had followed 
with sympathy, but, be it said, without compre- 

hension, the dying compromises of the Volun- 
tary system. They admired our voluntary 
effort without in the least understanding its 
magnitude. There was no one to point out 
authoritatively to them that Great Britain, 
perhaps alone of the three great Powers of the 
Entente, had furnished the means of defence 
promised at the very outbreak of the war. 
There was none to draw French attention 
to the fact that in the preparation of the 
defensive league of the Entente it was never 
contemplated that Great Britain should fur- 
nish an army on the Continental scale. We 
were to represent the sea and finance force 
of a defensive combination, the soldiers of 
which were France and Russia. None 
had ' shown them that our first duty to 
ourselves and to our Allies had been to see to 
the Fleet ; that therefore the first call upon our 
industrial resources was naval. There was 
none to remind the French peasant of the actual 
mathematical problems of war equipment. It 
was, therefore, but natural that while the 
French were bearing alone the great blood drain 
of Verdun there should have been a hopeful 
field for German propaganda directed towards 
creating bad blood between the Allies. Now 
and again indeed, in moments of depression, a 

In an improvised emplacement for indirect fire. 



few Frenchmen exclaimed, " What are the 
English doing ? " And yet it was proved 
ultimately that a few frank words from British 
Ministers declaring that the British Army had 
placed itself completely at the disposal of 
General Joffre from the very start of the Verdun 
operations almost sufficed to remove this 

The effect of Verdun upon the internal political 
situation in France was more marked, and 
indeed at one time seemed likely to be consider- 
able. Throughout the war the role of the French 
Chamber of Deputies and of the Upper House, 


A bell removed from a ruined village church and 

fixed up in a trench to warn French troops against 

the German asphyxiating gas attacks. 

the Senate, had been one of great delicacy 
and difficulty. At the outbreak of the struggle 
Parliament in a fine expression of the country's 
feeling decided at once to bury the political 
hatchet and to leave the Government unfettered 
by criticism to grapple with the many problems 
of national defence. In the first months of 
the war there was in France a series of 
problems to be settled similar to those 
which arose in England. The French had 
their shell shortage to meet. They had 
many gaps in their heavy artillery to make 
good, and towards the end of the first 
six months of war it became apparent that in 

some respects at least the Government had not 
displayed the requisite energy in dealing with 
these matters nor the necessary foresight in 
arranging for heavy gun construction. Par- 
liament, therefore, felt it to be its duty to resume 
the functions of control conferred upon it by 
the Constitution. The exercise of that control 
brought about no small amount of friction 
between Government and Chambers. The 
Ministers attacked defended themselves with 
tenacious vigour, and already in 1914 there 
were Parliamentarians who wondered whether 
in the machinery of secret sittings of the 
Chamber the Government might not be forced 
to reveal all and to deliver peccant Ministers 
to Parliamentary judgment. 

When the first accounts of the early clays at 
Verdun became known, the clamour for a 
secret sitting at which the House could be 
informed of all the documents bearing upon 
the conditions of the defence of Verdun 
increased. The agitation had the support of 
M. Clemenceau in the Senate, and in the 
Chamber of Deputies a large body of opinion 
favoured the demand, which, after much 
Parliamentary fencing and skirmishing, was 
finally accepted by M. Briand, the Prime 
Minister, and the first secret sitting of the 
Chamber of Deputies was held on June 16. 
The main purpose of secrecy was to enable 
private members to inform themselves fully 
as to the steps taken by the Higher Command 
to place Verdun in a proper condition of 
defence before the beginning of the German 
offensive on February 21. A subject of this 
nature was quite evidently not proper matter 
for public comment. A Parliamentary debale 
upon the Higher Command during the very 
height of battle was evidently full of danger. 
M. Briand determined that a debate restricted 
to this military subject would be more dan- 
gerous than a general discussion of the whole 
of the Government's war policy. The pro- 
ceedings were marked by one or two inci- 
dents, notably by a speech by M. Delcasse 
on foreign policy, which failed to obtain the 
approval of the House. The final result of 
the secret sittings in the Chamber, as well 
as of those held later in the Senate was to 
strengthen the Government's hands and to 
increase the prestige of its leader. No other 
result was, indeed, possible ' at a time when 
the whole future of Europe was still under 
public and violent debate in the fighting on 
the Meuse. ■ 



Trees destroyed by the enemy bombardment. 

Meanwhile, the French nation as a whole 
admirably resisted all the pressure placed upon 
them by events, and the attitude of the popu- 
lation, civil and military, was a model for 
futurity. They passed through weeks of 
strained anxiety. It was a time of severe test 

for the General Staff, for people, and for 
Parliament. The French war spirit emerged 
triumphant from these tests, and the enemy 
failed to reap any permanent moral or political 
advantage from the blood poured out upon the 
Meuse slopes in the continuance of the great 





Leaving their billets to take their place in the 


effort begun against Verdun at the end of 

The growing activity of the Germans on 
the British front, the aerial activity over the 
British Isles, the attempted Irish rising, and 
signs of fresh naval activity in the North Sea led 
many persons to imagine at the end of the 
month of April that the German had learned 
his lesson, was about to accept defeat at 
Verdun, and was getting ready to turn his 
attention to the once "contemptible" army in 
the north. There were, indeed, not a few 
General Officers in France who were inclined 
to share this view, which, indeed, found 
expression in a semi-official statement issued 
in Paris. At the ■ General Staff, however, 
there were no illusions, and when after a pro- 
longed pause the battle flamed up again 
there was no weakening in the French armour. 
The next great outburst of activity began in 
the first week of May. 

The course of the fighting was extremely 
simple. On the left bank all German progress 
had been stayed by the resistance of the 
Mort Homme, and the fighting here consisted 
throughout May and the greater part of June 
in a series of tremendous thrusts, some aimed 
directly at the Mort Homme positions of the 
French, while others bore upon the flanking 
bastions of that great natural fortress. 

On the right bank of the river the enemy 
proceeded to bring all his effort to bear upon 
one point after another, his attacks being 
centred mainly upon Thiaumont work and 
the region of Douaumont and Vaux. 

During the first week of May, under cover 
of heavy preliminary bombardment, the enemy 
completed his new concentration of troops. 
The battle began again upon the left bank, 
where, at the close of April, the French had 
begun to make local progress in the neigh- 
bourhood of the Mort Homme. 

A characteristic feature of the strategic course 
of the Battle of Verdun was the tendency of the 
German attack to displace itself ever farther 
westwards and away from the main objective. 
They had begun in February with the vain 
attempt to batter straight through the northern 
front. They were stopped by the Douaumont 
defence and tried to find a vulnerable spot in 
Pepper Ridge. Here, also, they were foiled, 
and were forced to carry the battle over to the 
left bank of the Meuse, trying to get through 
Crows' Wood, Cumieres Wood, and Goose 
Ridge. This also proved impossible, so long 
as the French held the Mort Homme, which, 
in its turn, became the centre of attack. Frontal 

On their way to the trenches. 



French advanced party waiting for the Germans. 

assault upon the Mort Homme had proved 
altogether too costly a plan to be followed, 
and at the beginning of May the front spread 
farther west again to Hill 304 and Avocourt 

The Mort Homme was the culminating point 
of a long, undulating plateau, running almost 
due north and south from Forges Stream to the 
Bois Bourrus. East of it lay the broad valley 
of the Meuse. On the west the plateau sloped 
more gradually down to the little stream of 
Esnes, which divided the Mort Homme from 
Hill 304. The ground here rose rapidly 
through a fringe of thin woods to a bare, 
C-shaped plateau, about two and a half miles 
long and a few hundred yards wide. For 
three days and three nights the whole of this 
ridge was swept by artillery fire. The French 
were driven out of their first-line trenches, 
and the enemy got a footing on the ridge. 
Using fresh troops with great prodigality, the 
enemy made almost superhuman efforts to 
develop this small success, but on May 10 he 
was forced once again to withdraw his shattered 
divisions, and, following the logic of the battle, 
to prepare for a further effort, and to seek for 
some means of turning Hill 304. Thus the 
enemy had attacked the Mort Homme in order 
to turn the Bois des Corbeaux (Crows' Wood), 
he had attacked Hill 304 in order to turn the 

Mort Homme, and he next attacked Avocourt 
Wood in order to turn Hill 304. 

The French artillery posted in Avocourt 
Wood had proved itself extremely irksome to 
German progress on Hill 304, as it was able 
to pour an enfilading fire upon the German 
troops which debouched from Haucourt. 
Operations here began with an assault upon 
Avocourt Wood at 6 p.m. on May 17. Very 
great preparations had been made in order 
to ensure success. French airmen flying 
behind the German lines had reported growing 
activity along the roads and at the rail centres 
behind the German lines ; fresh troops and 
fresh guns were being brought in from the east 
and from other portions of the line in France. 
The action begun at Avocourt spread east- 
wards until it embraced the whole of the 
western half of the Verdun battle -front from 
Avocourt to Cumieres. The most desperate 
fighting was in the immediate neighbourhood 
of the Mort Homme. On May 18 the volume 
of normal artillery fire rose to the fortissimo 
of battle, and reached its culminating point 
at about one o'clock on the afternoon of 
May 20. Over sixty German batteries con- 
centrated their accelerated fire upon the 
French positions along the north-western 
and north-eastern slopes of the Mort Homme, 
and almost immediately afterwards the in 




^^3r 1 / 


fan try moved out to the attack. The tactieal 
idea of the German plan was to cut in behind 
the hill-top of the Mort Homme from the 
north-east and north-west. The troops of a 
fresh division were told off to push through 
the attack from the north-east, to carry 
Crows' Wood, and Les Caurettes, and to join 
up with the thrust made from the north- 
west. ' 

The eastern attack met with but slight 
success. The first-line trenches of the French 
had, as was inevitable, crumbled away under 
the preliminary bombardment, but with their 
splendid tenacity the men of the French 
machine gun sections did not lightly abandon 
their positions. The Germans were received 
by a vigorous fire, but pressing forward in ever- 
growing numbers, they swept on across the first 
trench line, and advanced in strength upon the 
second line of defence. Here they were met by 
concentrated and combined machine gun and 
artillery fire. Their losses were extremely 
heavy. They fought with great vigour and 
determination, and at one time succeeded in 
getting right into the second line of trenches. 
Here progress was stopped. In vain did the 
Germans fling a neighbouring division into 
the battle in the hope of consolidating the 
first positions captured, and of driving through 
to the rear of the Mort Homme ; they were 
quite unable to make any headway. 

On the western slopes the enemy fared a little 
better. At the cost of heavy losses he gained 
possession of the French trenches on the south 
and south-west slopes of the ridge. The result 
achieved by the operations was small in geo- 
graphy, but large in promise. The Mort Homme 

was no longer a French position. Its summit 
was swept by the fire of the guns on both sides. 
The French had been driven down into the 
slight depression separating the top of the Mort 
Homme from the next eminence to the south. 

The exact price paid for this progress will 
never be known, but there was enough in the 
evidence of the battlefield and of prisoners to 
justify the belief that about three-quarters of 
the total number of troops engaged on the drive 
from the north-east were killed or wounded. 
The attacks were not, however, carried out in 
the most deadly formation, bvit were entrusted 
to seven and in some cases eight successive 
waves of infantry, separated one from the other 
by between fifty and a hundred yards. ' The 
whole of the Bavarian brigade engaged, which 
took part in the fighting at this point, was 
caught in the curtain fire of the French machine 
guns, and ceased to exist as a useful unit. The 
desperate nature of the fighting can well be 
imagined from the account given of it by an 
officer who was engaged. He had seen Ypres, 
Souchez, and Carency, and declared that even 
after Ypres and Carency, even after the first 
onslaught in the Verdun sector, he could not 
have believed that a battle could reach such 
a pitch of fury. 

" Nothing that the manuals say, nothing 
that the technicians have foreseen, is true to- 
day. Even under a hail of shells troops can 
fight on, and beneath the most terrific bombard- 
ment it is still the spirit of the combatants which 
counts. The German bombardments outdid all 

" When my battalion was called up as rein- 
forcements on May 20, the dug-outs and trenches 



of the first French line were already completely 
destroyed. The curtain fire of the Gennans, 
which had succeeded their bombardment of the 
front lines, fell on the road more than two 
kilometres behind these. Now and then the 
heavy long-distance guns of the Germans 
lengthened their fire in an attempt to reach our 
batteries and their communications. At eight 
o'clock in the evening, when we arrived in auto- 
'buses behind the second or third lines, several 
shells reached our wagons, and killed men. 
The excellent spirit of the battalion suffered not 
at all, and this is the more to be noted, since it 
is far easier to keep one's dash and spirit in the 
heat of actual battle than when one is just 
approaching it. I have read a good many 
stories of battle, and some of their embroideries 
appear to me rather exaggerated ; the truth is 
quite good enough by itself. Although they 
were bombarded beforehand, my men went very 
firmly into action. The cannonade worked on 
the ears and the nerves, getting louder with 
every step nearer the front, till the very earth 
shook, and our hearts jumped in our breasts. 

" Where we were there were hardly any 
trenches nor communication trenches left. 
Every half -hour the appearance of the earth was 


A stairway leading from one French trench to 


A deep and well-constructed trench. 

changed by the unflagging shell fire. It was a 
perfect cataract of fire. We went forward by 
fits and starts, taking cover in shell-holes, and 
sametimes we saw a shell drop in the very hole 
we had chosen for our next leap forwards. A 
hundred men of the battalion were half buried, 
and we had scarcely the time to stop and help 
them to get themselves out. Suddenly we 
arrived at what remained of our first-line 
trenches, just as the Boches arrived at our 
barbed wire entanglements — or, rather, at the 
caterpillar-like remains of our barbed wire. 

" At this moment the German curtain fire 
lengthened, and most of our men buried in 
shell-holes were able to get out and rejoin us. 
The Germans attacked in massed formation, by 
big columns of five or six hundred men, preceded 
by two waves of sharpshooters. We had only 
our rifles and our machine-guns, because the 
75's could not get to work. 

" Fortunately the flank batteries succeeded 
in catching the Boches on the right. It is abso- 
lutely impossible to convey what losses the 
Germans must suffer in these attacks Nothing 
can give an idea of it. Whole ranks are mowed 
down, and those that follow them suffer the same 
fate. Under the storm of machine-gun, rifle 




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and 75 fire, the German columns were ploughed 
into furrows of death. Imagine if you can 
what it would he like to rake water. Those 
gaps filled up again at once. That is enough 
to show with what disdain of human life the 
German attacks are planned and carried out. 

" In these circumstances German advances 
are sure. They startle the public, but at the 
front nobody attaches any importance to them. 
As a matter of fact, our trenches are so near- 
those of the Germans that once the barbed wire 
is destroyed the distance between them can be 
covered in a few minutes. Thus, if one is 
willing to suffer a loss of life corresponding to 
the number of men necessary to cover the space 
between the lines, the other trench can always 
be reached. By sacrificing thousands of men, 
after a formidable bombardment, an enemy 
trench can always be taken. 

" There are slopes on Hill 304 where the level 
of the ground is raised several metres by 
mounds of German corpses. Sometimes it 
happens that the third German wave uses the 
dead of the second wave as ramparts and 
shelters. It was behind ramparts of the dead 
left by the first five attacks, on May 24, that we 
saw the Bodies take shelter while they organized 
their next rush. 

" We make prisoners among these dead 
during our counter-attacks. They are men 
who have received no hurt, but have been 
knocked down by the falling of the human wall 
of their killed and wounded neighbours. They 
say very little. They are for the most part 
dazed with fear and alcohol, and it is several 
days before they recover." 

The flame on the left bank spread the next 
day (May 22) to the whole Verdun front, and 
the French in a brilliant dash upon the Fort 
of Douatimont opened one of the most glorious 
chapters of the defence upon the right bank. 

Douaumont had long been one of the white- 
heat points in the furnace. When the Ger- 
mans announced throughout the world on 
February 26 that their " doughty Branden- 
burgers " had captured the position they doubt- 
less piously believed that they had in fact won 
command of the key of the whole Meuse posi- 
tion. As has been explained in previous 
chapters, the course of modern warfare had 
completely altered the kind of services which 
the ring of old-style forts around Verdun was 
called upon to play. While the positions which 
had been crowned by forts naturally retained 


Congratulating the General in command at 

Hill 304. 

their former importance in relation to the 
terrain, they became from a fortification point 
of view nothing but extremely strong links in 
the wide scheme of field works. Douaumont 
Fort, therefore, while completely changed by 
the development of war, while it had lost its 
old meaning, nevertheless kept its old import- 
ance as an observation point and as a position 
from which the approaches to Vaux and Bras 
Fort could be swept by fire. 

Moreover, the Germans who first entered the 
fort on February 26 were few in number, and for 
many a long day the chief preoccupation of the 
enemy at this point of the line was to hang on 
like grim death to the slender hold he had 
acquired without a thought of any advance 
towards Paris. Having with difficulty consoli- 
dated his position, the enemy then sought to 
improve it. After much hard fighting he pressed 
the French down the southern slope of Douau- 
mont, but he was never able to make his posi- 
tion there entirely sure. 

The French, on their side, had here as at 




other points along the line the fixed principle of 
profiting from every opportunity to hinder the 
enemy's progress and upset his calculations 
with vigorous local counter-attacks. It was 
the settled policy of steady defensive with 
occasional flashes of aggression. When Douau- 
mont Fort fell, its work devolved upon Vaux 
Fort, and with this point of resistance as a sort 
of base behind them the French in March and 
April worked steadily if slowly back towards 

While the Germans were getting more and 
more heavily engaged upon the left bank of the 
river in their effort against the Mort Homme, 
the French pushed up east and west of Douau- 
mont towards Thiaumont Farm and Caillette 
Wood as a preliminary to a direct attack upon 
the Douaumont position itself. 

The Germans devoted their picked troops to 
the capture of Douaumont in February, for only 
solid troops could be expected successfully to 
carry a position of its strength. The French, 
in their turn, entrusted the execution of the 
operations to the Fifth Division under General 
Mangin, one of the most dashing of our Ally's 

The preparation of the French attack was 
carried out with a secrecy which had been notice- 
ably absent from the planning of other opera- 
tions of this importance. Directly responsible 
for the plans was General Nivello, who from the 
beginning of May had been placed in direct 
command of the Verdun army in succession to 


General Petain. General Petain had taken the 
place of General Langle de Gary, who at the 
beginning of the Verdun offensive was in com- 
mand of the Central Group of the French 
Armies and included in his front the Verdun 
area. General Langle de Gary was appointed 
to an Inspectorship in the rear in the early 
stages of the Verdun fighting. 

Petain's successor had a long record of pre- 
war service in the Colonies. He was an old 
Polytechnique man, and had specialized in the 
use of artillery. His career was in many 
respects similar to that of Petain. The war 
found him in command of the Fifth Infantry 
Regiment. In October, 1914, he commanded 
a Brigade. In February, 1915, he was acting 
Commander of the Sixth Division and then as 
General of Division took over the Third Army 

Invention had placed in General Nivelle's 
hands a very useful means of ensuring tactical 
secrecy, so difficult to obtain with the develop- 
ment of the Air Services and the swarms of kite 
sausages which floated above the Meuse Hills. 
A new type of bomb for destroying these 
balloons, which was used with such effect 
later in the opening stages of the Somme 
offensive, was introduced in the preparation of 
the French attack upon Douaumont, and before 
General Mangin's men were set in motion the 
enemy was partially blinded by the destruction 
by aircraft of six of his observation balloons. 

The great interest of the Douaumont battles 



is that the study of no other portion of the 
operations gives so clear an idea of the real cause 
of German failure to break through. The great 
factor which the Germans had completely under- 
estimated was the fighting spirit of the French 
soldier. And at Verdun the French showed 
that however great might have become the 
importance of artillery the infantry were still, 
and perhaps more than ever, the Queen of 

The troops allotted to the recapture of Douau- 
mont were no strangers to Verdun. Fpon the 
Fifth Division had fallen the brunt of the enemy 
onslaughts in the Vaux-Douaumont region at 
the beginning of April. They suffered heavily, 
b\it before they left to refit in the rear General 
Mang'n, addressing his men, said : " You are 
going to reform your depleted ranks. Many 
among you will return to your homes and will 
bear with you to your families the warlike 
ardour and the thirst for vengeance which 
inspires you. ' There is no rest for any French- 
man so long as the barbarous enemy treads the 
hallowed ground of our country ; there can be 
no peace for the world so long as the monster 
of Prussian militarism has not been laid low. 
You will therefore prepare yourselves for further 
battles, in which you will have the absolute 
certainty of your superiority over an enemy 
whom you have seen so often flee or raise his 
hands before your bayonets and grenades. 
You are certain of that now. Any German who 

gets into a trench of the Fifth Division is dead 
or captured. Any position methodically at- 
tacked by the Fifth Division is a captured 
position. You march under the wings of 
Victory." A month later they were back, 
burning to justify the confidence of their chief. 
The " methodical " preparation of the assault 
was thoroughly well carried out. For two days 
the French- poured high explosive upon the 
already battered ruins of the Fort. An officer 
who took part in the attack thus described the 
operations : " On the horizon the top of 
Douaumont was crowned with sombre smoke. 
It looked like a volcano in full eruption, and 
under the formidable fire of the French artillery 
our infantry was getting on with its preparation 
for attack, was digging its attacking trenches 
and making all its last dispositions. Shortly 
before eight o'clock on May 22 one of our air- 
squadrons flew up and went over the enemy 
lines. A few minutes afterwards six of the 
sausage balloons of the enemy on the right bank 
of the Meuse exploded. Our pilots had carried 
out their task, they had deprived the German 
artillery of its best means of observation, and 
had considerably interfered with its efficiency 
for a part, at any rate, of the day. One of our 
soidiers, who was struck by the fact that the 
enemy shell was falling far from the zone 
normally swept by their guns, said to his 
colonel : ' We've put a bandage round the 
Boche's eyes.' " 





Nevertheless, the Germans, feeling the 
imminence of the attack and the approach of 
danger, flooded our first lines with a storm 
of shrapnel, while our artillery increased its 
speed, and was vomiting shells with all its 
strength. As an officer said, there was a per- 
petual moan such as had never been heard 
before. The hour of attack drew near. All 
our men knew the price of it. They knew the 
fighting at Neuville St. Vaast, the offensive 
in the Champagne, the hand-to-hand struggles 
in the Bois des Caillettes ; they knew the work 
of German artillery and of the enemy in front 
of them. Their respective duties were care- 
fully laid down. The centre had the big 
job allotted to it, to carry the ruins of the fort ; 
the right and the left were to take the enemy 
trenches east and west, and endeavour to 
surround the position. Each one of them knew 
his duty, and appreciated the value of the 
effort demanded of him. 

Soldiers such as these would not be denied. 
At 10 minutes to 12 they all dashed 
forward. There was no singing, and they did 
not form a battle picture. They bounded 
from shell hole to shell hole, from obstacle to 
obstacle, lying down, disappearing, rushing 
forward again, some falling never to get up 
again. A splendid flame burned through them. 
At noon the staff aeroplane reported that a 
Bengal fire was burning on Douaumont fort. 
The 129th Regiment had taken 11 minutes 
to carry three lines of enemy trench, and to 
reach its objective. 

On the left, all the German trenches on the 
west of the fort as far as the road from Douau- 
mont to Fleury had fallen into French hands : 
the 36th Regimont had carried out its part 
of the task. At the same time detachments 
of infantry and sappers got inside the fort, 
and covered the operations of those entrusted 
with the destruction of flanking positions, 
and with the blocking of exits from the fort. 
Bengal fires going up one after the other 
showed what progress was being made. It 
was reported to the staff of the Tenth Brigade 
that the surrounding movement was being 
effected in excellent conditions. The north- 
western and the northern angle were reached, 
and mitrailleuses were put in place. 

Meanwhile, east of the fort, the progress 
of the 74th Regiment had met with great 
opposition. The. left had pushed forward 
rapidly, but the right had been under heavy 
fire from the enemy's communication trenches 

which commanded their flank. In spite of 
all efforts this break slowed down progress. 
The north-eastern angle of the fort was still in 
German hands. We held over two-thirds of the 
whole position, and sent back many prisoners 
to the rear. Half an hour after the staff 
aeroplane signal had been received — that is 
to say, less than 50 minutes after the begin- 
ning of the assault — two German officers, 
some non-commissioned officers, and about 100 
men arrived as prisoners at the command 
post of the Tenth Brigade. Our men were 
wildly enthusiastic, and had but one thought, 
to push on to their success. Before the troops 
started out on these operations orders had 
been issued in which it was said : " The 
Germans will make every effort to prevent us 
from getting into Douaumont Fort. Con- 
sequently, if we do get in, don't think that 
you're going to have a second of rest." 

It was certain that the reaction of the 
enemy would make itself felt ; it was of almost 
unheard-of violence. That night masses of 
infantry collected east of Haudromont Wood, 
and towards ten o'clock at night a violent 
bombardment was begun upon the French 
positions west of the fort. It was followed by a 
very vigorous infantry attack, which forced us 
to yield a little of the line we had won in the 
morning. In the fort, throughout the night, 
the struggle turned to our advantage. We 
kept all we had got, and even slightly increased 
our gains. At dawn the next day, the 23rd, 
our positions in the fort were subjected to 
an appalling bombardment. Although the 
trench organiz ition which had been successively 
tumbled and turned by French and German 
artillery seemed absolutely untenable, the 
129th Regiment, in spite of the losses which 
had weakened its ranks, hung on to the ground 
gained with a tenacity that was perfectly 
extraordinary. It was in vain that the 
enemy multiplied his infantry attacks and 
resumed and reinforced his bombardment. 
He met with an indomitable resistance. 
Nowhere was there, any faltering, nowhere 
did the German manage to get his teeth in ; 
and when, during the night of the 23rd and 
the morning of the 24th, the 10th Infantry 
Brigade was relieved, it had not lost an inch 
of the ground it had captured 

Heroic episodes in this desperate fight were 
legion. All ought to be quoted, they all 
resemble each other ; and yet how many will 
remain unknown ! There are the Grenadiers, 


The balloon had broken loose and was drifting towards the enemy's trenches during a storm. The 

French airman landed safely behind the French lines. 




who pushed forward into perilous positions, 
right into the German lines, and did great 
killing before they rejoined their comrades. 
They even went the whole round of the fort, 
throwing their grenades, and yet managed to 
get back to their regiment. It was good to hear 
the officers talking of their men. " I've been 
in twenty-five campaigns," said a colonel 
who commanded a brigade ; " I've never seen 
anything finer than this assault. My men 
have really moved me into a surprised admira- 
tion. There is nothing finer than our French 
soldiers. They are better than they were a 
year ago, better to-day than they were yester- 
day. They are always surprising. I watched 
them coming back from the lines, both young 
and old were the same. There was one 
carrying a German helmet, another moved 
slowly but gloriously along upon a long stick ; 


Buildings reduced to a heap of ruins by German 

artillery fire. 

they were all laden with splendid booty, they 
were real warriors, and I adore them." 

The fighting at Douaiunont was not only a 
fine episode and a glorious episode in the 
history of the French army ; it contained a 
lesson for the enemy. The lesson for the 
Germans was that the spirit and dash of the 
French infantryman was still as great as ever. 
The enemy, even in operations in which their 
best troops were engaged, had been obliged 
frequently to resort to close formation in attack. 
The French infantry streamed out of its trenches 
in open order and advanced faultlessly upon the 
plateau. There was no faltering of any sort 
and the men stood the strain of advance in open 
order with complete success. Once they had 
got inside the fort their troubles were in some 
respects only beginning. The garrison made 
the most determined stand and hung on to its 
positions in the north and north-east of the fort 
with grim tenacity, waiting for the counter- 
attack to come to their relief. They had not 
long to wait, and the rest of the day and the 
following night were filled with the roar of 
battle as fresh counter-attacks followed one 
after the other at short intervals. Fighting was 
carried out right along the Douaumont front, 
and the fort itself was attacked time after time 
by strong bodies of infantry who were launched 
against it from west, east and north. The 
efforts of the two fresh Bavarian divisions were 
finally triumphant, and on May 24 the ruins of 
Douaumont were once again in enemy hands. 

The whole Verdun front was now ablaze, and 
from Avocourt to Vaux the Germans hurled 



regiment after regiment of new troops upon the 
French lines in a supreme endeavour to break 
through. They re-entered Douaumont, as we 
have seen, on May 24, and the same day they 
made progress of greater significance on the left 
bank sector of the field of battle. On May 23 
the situation on the left bank was extremely 
critical — the whole battle of Verdun was 
an unending series of critical days. Here, 
as upon the right bank, the Germans had some, 
what antedated their victories. They had 
announced the capture of the Mort Homme, and 
they had followed this example by declaring that 
Hill 304 was in their hands, at a time when from 
a military point of view they were still far from 
undisputed mastery of these positions. With 
regard to Hill 304, it is clear that on this day, 
May 23, the French still held the military crest 
and the western slopes. It is perhaps necessary 
to explain that, owing to the development of 
modern artillery, hill-crests in the geographical 
sense of the term possessed no military value 
whatever. The tops of the hills and ridges of the 
Meuse were so pounded with high explosive as to 
be untenable by either side. What happened in 

most cases was that the defending party held 
on to the military crest as long as possible. This 
military crest consisted of trench positions, 
situated a few hundred feet below the sky-line, 
and screened from direct artillery fire by the 
geographical crest of the hill. In many cases 
there existed a complicated system of tunnels 
which led right through from behind the peak 
to the slope exposed to the observation of the 
enemy. Here on this exposed surface artillery 
observation posts were established, protected 
and strengthened by a few machine-guns. The 
top of the hill itself ceased therefore to possess 
any value. This use of what the French call 
the contre-pente had first been introduced into 
general practice by the Germans in the course 
of the Champagne offensive in the autumn of 
1915. It was indeed mainly these positions 
with their large fields of barbed wire, which lay 
hidden from direct artillery destruction, which 
held up the French in their onslaught upon the 
last German lines in the neighbourhood of 

The situation at the Mort Homme at the 
beginning of May may be described roughly as 

After the German bombardment. 






























follows : The enemy had crept a short way up 
the northern face of the ridge, and had formed 
a salient in the French positions established 
upon the eastern and the western slopes of the 
hill, the summit of which had been converted 
into a shell-swept No Man's Land, upon which 
occasionally ventured an absolutely essential 
artillery observation officer. On the contre- 
pente French infantry were as solidly entrenched 
as was possible, and in the horse-shoe round the 
base of the hill the French held hastily-con- 
structed trench defences. The opening of the 
horse-shoe was represented by the German 
salient on the northern side. 

On the neighbouring position of Hill 304 the 
state of affairs was not exactly similar. There 
the Germans had pushed through the stubble 
of shell-shattered woods which lined the base of 
the ridge, and had occupied positions which 
were almost exactly the opposite of the relative 
situations of the two armies upon the Mort 
Homme. Here it was the German Army which 
had placed a horse -shoe at the base of the hill, 
and it was the French from the western slopes 
who formed a salient. 

The general plan of the enemy on May 23 
was to turn the whole Mort Homme plateau by 
cutting through the trench organizations which 
linked it up in the west with Hill 304. The 
enemy had pushed the French down to the base 
of the Mort Homme, and endeavoured to swing 
themselves up to the crest of Hill 287, the next 
eminence on the road to Verdun. At the same 
time the Germans endeavoured to cut through 
to the east of the Mort Homme plateau, and 
into the combined operations, which were 
launched after a bombardment of great fury, 
the enemy launched at least two army corps. 
Fortunately the French had in this sector of 
the front troops of well-tried valour ; the new 
systems of liaison and fire control were becoming 
perfected ; the infantry had but to press a 
button, so to speak, to have an almost instan- 
taneous curtain fire from the artillery in the 

It was one of the curious things of the war 
that for long the unquestioned changes wrought 
in tactics, and in the use of artillery, had failed 
to affect the general organization of the French 
armies. The divisions employed could have, at 
this stage of the war, no general or individual 
strategic mission, which is another way of saying 
that for the divisional general the tactics had 
almost entirely vanished, or were applied upon a 
minute scale involving the capture of a cellar, 




Reinforcements leaving motor wagons to relieve their comrades in the trenches. 

or the flanking of a ditch, and strategy had 
completely disappeared. For the army corps 
this was even more the case, yet, until an 
advanced period of the battle for Verdun, the 
old almost watertight army organization had 
remained intact. The general commanding a 
division still had under his direct control the 
same amount of artillery as at the opening of 
the war. Heavy artillery was almost entirely 
the special property of the army corps com- 
manders, to whom requests for barrage fire had 
to be addressed through time-wasting and 
circuitous routes. General Petain was the first 
French army commander to introduce a system 
which was already employed in both the British 
and German armies. He abolished, partly at 
any rate, the iron-bound system of divisions of 
army corps, massed large numbers of divisions 
together, and gave to each of them their pro- 
portionate quota of heavy artillery. The 
importance of this change is quite evident when 
it is realized that in all the later stages of the 
Verdun battle the curtain fire was, in the 
majority of cases, carried out by heavy artiller5% 
Curtain fire, to be effective, had to be instan- 
taneous. Immediately the forward artillery 
observation officer saw the enemy's bombard- 
ment slacken, and the " war-grey " forms of 
the enemy appear above the trench-line, he had 
to telephone at once, or, as was frequently the 
case when telephones had ceased to work, to 
signal with rockets, for an immediate curtain 
fire. The shell of the 75's had proved itself 
quite unable to stop the massed rushes of the 
enemy, and unless what at the beginning of 
Verdun was the Corps Artillery, that is to say 
the heavy guns, could pour its thousands of 
pounds of melinite upon the advancing waves, 
the attack was almost certain to succeed. 

It was through a curtain fire of this tremen- 
dous density that the German infantry advanced 
on the left bank front on May 23. The scene 
was described by one of the band of American 
airmen who did such excellent work in. the 
Verdun sector, in words which conjure up, as 
do all the aerial photographs, and particularly 
those of the assault upon Douaumont, a battle 
picture painted in completely novel perspective. 
This airman had been sent out as artillery 
observation officer at the beginning of the 
German assaults in the Mort Homme region. 
His mission, he declared, was absolutely fruit- 
less. Although he flew at an extremely low 
altitude, only some few hundred feet above the 
earth, nothing whatever could be seen, except 
a tremendous pillar of smoke ; the ground itself 
was completely hidden from his eyes. There 
was not even a flash. A column of smoke 
600 feet high covered the whole position. In 
this smoky inferno wave after wave of Ger- 
mans fell blasted to pieces by high explosives, 
or were dropped in their rush by the savage 
chattering machine guns. On the east of the 
Mort Homme the enemy was unable to get 
through the horrible zone thus formed, and his 
dead lay in patches in the shell area, and in long 
swathes where the machine guns had mown 
them down. 

Between Hill 304 and thb Mort Homme, 
however, greater progress was made. For a 
time here too the enemy spent himself in un- 
availing dashes at the curtain of bursting shell ; 
but, as there were ever more and more men 
pressing forward to take the places of those who 
fell, towards the close of the day the Germans 
managed to sweep through the danger zone, 
and to install themselves close enough to the 
first trench lines to render the use of French 



With fixed bayonets, and led by a bomb-thrower. 

high explosive impossible, without there being 
a certainty of killing as many French as 
Germans. Here for a time the enemy hung on, 
and meanwhile the special detachment cf 
flame-fighters who had just arrived in this 
region were sent forward. There is no mask 
against fire, and with their diabolical flame- 
throwers the Germans succeeded in burning the 
French out of their first lines. Before nightfall 
the French came back at them again — it was 
one of the constantly hopeful features of the 
Verdun fighting that at no period did the French 
infantry fail to react — and after half an hour's 
fighting the Germans had been driven out of 
the ground they had purchased at so high a cost, 

and were filtering in isolated disorder back to 
the trenches from which they had begun the 

Dastardly and despicable though German 
methods of fighting were, it would be foolish 
to deny that in the whole effort they made 
against Verdun their men displayed the 
most formidable doggedness. Time after time 
they stormed to the assault of the most for- 
bidding positions, over the corpses of hundreds 
who had failed before them ; time after time 
regiments which had reeled and melted beneath 
the deadly sputtering of mitrailleuses formed 
up again, and again returned to obvious de- 
struction. The French were not long left in 




French troops in a vi 

possession of their recaptured line, but had, 
before night fell, to withstand again the counter- 
attacks of the enemy. This night effort was 
most pronounced to the west of the Mort 
Homme, a section of the front which had seen 
some of the most desperate fighting in the 
whole history of the battle. The Caurettes 
"Wood and Cumieres Wood, which formed the 
first cover of Cumieres village, had, as lias 
been related in earlier chapters, been the scene 
of desperate and bloody fighting. They had 
been captured and recaptured several times, and 
when this climax was reached, the French were 
stiJl hanging on by the skin of their teeth to a 
portion of these woods. The day attacks had 


llage near Verdun. 

failed to get home ; at night the sluice-gates of 
Germany were open, and horde after horde of 
infantry rolled down in the effort to force a 
passage to the east of the Mort Homme — down 
the valley of the Meuse itself. 

In spite of the explanations furnished by the 
German General Staff there can be. no question 
whatever that this great drive was intended to 
bring the Germans into position from which 
they could begin the direct attack upon the 
main defences of Verdun on the left bank. 
It is to be noted that in this area of the front 
the Germans were still battling with the advance 
work defending the Meuse capital. They had 
not here even reached the same point on May 22 



as they had attained on February 20 on the 
right bank by the capture of Douaumont. 
The French still had to protect their whole 
Verdun salient, the formidable line of wooded 
hill and dale constituted by the fort of Bras, 
Bourrus Wood, and the Esnes position. It was 
to the piercing of this second line of defence 
that the great attacks of May 23 were devoted. 
An was frequently the case in the long 
battle, the enemy very nearly succeeded. He 
felt the cup between his lips, but could not 
drink. During the night of May 23-24, profiting 
by his gains on Hill 304 and the Mort Homme, 
which, although slight in measurement, were 
capable of great strategic profit, he pushed 
forward upon the second line of Verdun 
defences. Once again troops which had hitherto 
been spared the horrors of Verdun were 
gathered in strength upon the restricted front 

Showing the method of construction, and the 
white lines of the communication trenches in the 
distance. Smaller picture : Poste de Comman- 
dant at a French Brigade Headquarters near 

of the Mort Homme and the country west of 
it as far as the Meuse. The village of Cumi-res 
was the immediate objective of this resumed 
attempt. It had long before been ruined, laying 
as it did in the valley at the extreme western 
point of the great loop formed by the Meuse 
between Samogneux and Bras, its strategic 
value was doubtful. The whole place was 
covered with shells, and reduced by the most 
elementary and, be it added, effective methods 
of warfare. After every few hours of bombard- 
ment waves of infantry were sent up to it. 
When they returned, broken and depleted 
under the fire of undestroyed machine gims, 
the big guns again took up the story. By this 
alternate battery and assault the Germans on 
May 24 smashed the line, drove the French 
right out of the village of Cumteres, and, 
profiting by their disorder and disarray, pushed 
their infantry right down to the neighbourhood 
of Chattancourt railway station. 

Once again the French automatic counter- 
attack, at any rate partly, re-established a 
balance. The infantry went at the advancing 
Gennans with all their old dash and bite, and 
drove them back into Cumieres village, where, 
throughout the night of the 24th, they held out 
in trenches on the southern outskirts of the 
ruins. This hold enabled them to start 
methodical operations for the recapture of 
the rubble heap. Getting into the bushes and 
tree trunks east of the village, bombing parties 
made good progress during the next few days, 
while the enemy was having an all too brief 
breathing space. While the infantry were 
at work in the east, the artilleryman was 



pounding the German positions in the village 
and to the north-west of it. On May 27 the 
progress made by these two arms was deemed 
sufficient and the two assaulting columns, 
which had been brought \ip east and west of 
the village, were launched at sundown. On 
both flanks progress was made. The great 
landmark of Cumieres, the mill, was carried 
by the eastern column, and at dusk the French 
were engaged in the especially desperate 
business of cellar fighting, in the attempt to 
strengthen their hold upon the village. 

The western column made sufficient progress 
to cause the Germans to fear that the whole 
village would be surrounded, and vigorous 
counter-attacks to the strength of a brigade 
and a half were launched upon this one point. 
It is interesting to note, at this stage in the 
battle, what tremendous effort in effectives 
had been demanded from the Germans. It is 
also interesting to note the first definite instance 
of large co-ordination between the western 
Allies, which is to be found in the relief of the 
French Tenth Army by British forces. 

The Germans at this stage of the battle 
began a great artillery demonstration in Alsace 
and elsewhere along the front, with a view to 
preventing the free handling by the French of 
their reserves. The Paris Correspondent of The 
Times, commenting upon this on May 28, said : 

The French, it would be puerile to deny, have paid, 
and are paying, the price which their heroic resistance 
at Verdun demands. Their losses during the last week's 
fighting have probably been proportionately greater 
than at any other time throughout the Verdun fighting. 
It would, nevertheless, be folly to imagine that the bulk 
of the French general reserves has been flung into battle. 
The relief given by the British in taking over the front 
of the French 10th Army, liberating it for service else- 
where, is an indication of the method by which the 
Allied effectives in > the West are constantly growing 
and the heavy losses at Verdun constantly being made 

The fact that the enemy, for the continuance of his 
tremendous drive upon the Verdun bulwarks, has been 
forced to scratch together fresh divisions from Russia, 
from the Balkans, and from the northern front, is the 

Smaller picture : A trench and barricade. 




















best evidence of die price which the Trench are exacting 
for every yard of advance made by the Germans towards 
the eastern gate. Some indication of that price is con - 
tained in the Echo de Paris in a telegram from the 
Verdun front. The writer of this dispatch says : 

" It is proved that from May 20 to May 25 seven 
different divisions were flung into the battle on both 
sides of the Meuse. Four of these were brought from 
other points of the Western front — two from Flande'rs, 
two from the Somme. 

" On the left bank alone four divisions were employed 
in the last week-end fighting. Without a thought of 
the enormous losses caused by our curtain fire and 
machine guns, the German Command threw them one 
after the other into the boiling pot east and west of Mort 
Homme. On May 22 alone, before the capture of 
Cumieres village, which has now been retaken, the enemy 
made no fewer than 16 attacks upon the front from the 
Avocourt Wood to the Meuse. Over 50,000 men sought 
that day to climb the slopes of Mort Homme and the 
plateau of Hill 304. The great charnel heap had 15,000 
fresh corpses flung upon it without the French lines 
having yielded." 

All estimates of losses must naturally, at the present 
moment, remain estimates, but, according to all the 
information available, it seems to be established beyond 
question that there is a great disproportion between the 
losses of the French and Germans. The battle of Verdun 
throughout its development seems, indeed, to have 
shown that the French have reached a watershed of 
victory. In other words, that their artillery equipment 
and shell consumption have almost, if not entirely, 
reached a point of equality with that of the Germans. 
Under the conditions of modern warfare it is inevitable, 
with such equality of armament, and with, at the very 
least, equality of moral between opposing men, that 
the attackers should suffer more heavily in the casualty 

There is good ground for the belief that in the first 
six weeks of the Verdun battle the Germans were losing 
very nearly three to one. 

Losses seemed, however, to be of no import- 
ance whatever to the enemy in the pursuit of 
his aim. The hundredth day of the battle of 
Verdun was marked by a tremendous upward 
swoop of the curve of bloodshed, by another 
and even more vehement blow, delivered no 
doubt with a full and considered apprecia- 
tion of military requirements, but aimed also 
at affecting the course of internal affairs in 
France. The agitation, briefly summarized 
at the beginning of this chapter, for a full and 
free discussion of the conditions of defence at 
Verdun, was taking a more and more alarming 

This great blow at the military might and 
civilian moral of France was begun on May 28. 
The Sunday was passed in what in Verdun 
constituted quiet — that is to say, the whole 
countryside shook and trembled under the fire 
of thousands of guns. In the evening the 
German infantry moved out of Crows' Wood 
and delivered an assault upon the French 
trenches betweerf the Mort Homme and 
Cumieres. This effort was shattered beneath 
French curtain fire, and it was not until mid- 


The German Crown Prince with his 

Chief of Staff. 

night that the enemy again got going. But 
this second attempt met with no greater success. 
The casualties sustained in this fighting had 
clearly shown the Germans that, intense though 
their bombardment had been, it had not been 
heavy enough to obliterate the French defence. 
The artillery once more took up the story, and 
for some 12 hours over 60 heavy batteries of 
enemy artillery poured shell upon the Avocourt- 
Mort Homme-Cumieres line. At three in the 
afternoon the next assault was launched. In 
these attacks no less than five fresh divisions 
took part. Two had been drawn from the 
front of the Sixth Army, while the main reserve 
of the German Army in the West at Cambrai had 
been called upon to furnish the other two. To 
give these fresh troops backing and aid in the 
tremendous task which lay before them, the 
greatest concentration of artillery seen up till 
then on the Western front was carried out with 
speed and secrecy. Each hour of battle saw the 
establishment of a fresh record in shell eon- 
sumption. There had been nothing like it in 
the world's history, and nothing which even the 
most imaginative writers of war fiction had said 
in forecasting the conditions of modern war in 
any way approached the storm of horror un- 
loosed in this stage of the great struggle for 
Verdun. The German attacks, broken and 



shattered as they were by constant curtain fire, 
were repeated with tremendous rapidity along 
the front. It was, as one officer put it, as 
though the whole German Army had been con- 
verted into a machine-gun, and was delivering 
a series rf blows in which each bullet of the 
machine-gun was represented by a regiment. 

The enemy's losses were gigantic, and at one 
time it seemed as though success might have 
been within his grasp, but the toll taken of the 
Germans as they advanced in wave after wave 
upon the French positions was too great for any 
army to withstand the drain. The objective of 
all this fighting was the reduction of the salient 
formed by the French lines in the Mort Homme- 
Cumieres section of the front ; the results 
obtained were scanty. The big blow of their 
guns was delivered upon the French centre, and 
right along this portion of the battlefield the 
French first-line trenches were obliterated. But 
what the artillery had shattered the German 
infantry was unable to seize. The enemy found 
himself much in the position of a man, anxious 
to increase his bag, who has brought down his 
bird, but whose retriever is quite unable to 
bring it back. At the end of this stage of the 
fighting the French positions on the Mort 
Homme had been greatly weakened, but they 
still were holding out in trenches to the east, 
south and west. The village of Cumieres had 
been captured, but there also none of the 
expected fruit of the German victory had been 
gathered. The attempt to storm through and 
begin the direct attack upon the great second 
line of the left bank defences of Verdun had 
failed, and in spite of the strenuous and constant 
striving ot the enemy to accomplish his object 
in the month of June, he was still occupjang the 
positions on the Mort Homme, was still fighting 
for Hill 304, was still far from the Bourrus- 
Esnes line of positions when the joint Anglo- 
French offensive in the Somme burst with its 
fury on July 1. 

It cannot be definitely stated whether the 
next move of the enemy was due to the recog- 
nition of his failure on the left bank, or whether 
it was due to an almost incredible exaggeration 
of the effects of the small success achieved. 
The main cause of the left bank operations was 
that operations on the right bank in the neigh- 
bourhood of Douaumont had been impeded by 
the enfilading fire of the French batteries posted 
farther north upon the left bank. The Mort 
Homme position had proved to be particularly 

disturbing. It may be that with the practical 
reduction of this bastion the Germans felt that 
they could afford to concentrate once more upon 
the northern front of Verdun, and once again 
attempt to pierce straight through to the city. 
The Paris Correspondent of The Times, tele- 
graphing on June 1, was able to report that " so 
far the German blows have only dented the 
French defence, and there seems no reason to 
suppose that the enemy will ever succeed in 
driving right through it." Telegraphing earlier 
in the day the same correspondent said : " On 
the right bank the bombardment, which has 
become almost chronic, was continued yesterday 
along the whole front from the Meuse to Vaux. 
. . . During the night the bombardment both 
east and west of Fort Douaumont attained an 
intensity which can only precede great infantry 
operations on one side or the other." 

Such indeed was the case. The French first 
and second lines during 26 hours had been 
subjected to a constant bombardment, of a 
violence seldom seen even in the course of this 
battle. All the heavy quick-firing batteries at 
the disposal of the enemy had been drawn up, 
and had made it impossible for the French 
supply and ammunition columns to furnish 
their front lines. The storm was a prelude 
to a long and desperate struggle for the Fort of 
Vaux, the capture of which had been announced 
by the' Germans three months previously, when 
they had succeeded in getting a footing on the 
northern slopes of the ridge. The two great 
efforts of the enemy against this position in 
March and in April had been very costly, and 
in no way successful. Throughout those two 
months they had been constantly pushing in 
small local attacks, which were equally un- 
availing. The June fighting, which lasted for 
a week, gave them the position, but to take it 
they poured out men in a profusion unequalled 
in any attack of so small a front. 

After the fall of Douaumont, Vaux had taken 
up the duties of that position, and had become 
the advanced bastion of the big Souville fort to 
the south-west. Its fire swept the ravine 
through which the ground rose from the Woevre 
plain to Souville. The line of attack, as in the 
case of the Mort Homme, was from the north- 
east and north-west, through the Fumin Wood 
and Caillettes Wood. On June 1 the enemy, 
advancing from the north-west, captured the 
Caillettes spur, and advanced through Vaux 
village, and on the following day began the 
direct assault upon the fort. 




After seven days' desperate fighting against assaulting troops the enemy occupied the work, which 

had been completely ruined by furious bombardment. 

An official account of the figfcting round Vaux 
said : " It is impossible to retrace in detail 
the movements of such fighting. A modern 
battle is too fragmentary and too complicated 

for even approximate reconstitution to be 
possible. Nevertheless among the episodes 
there are some which give a good idea of the 
nature of the whole fighting. Among these is 



the defence of Trench R.I. by the 101st Infantry 
Regiment. R.I. was a small trench north-west 
of Yaux fort, about halfway between the fort 
and the village. In front of it, about 40 
yards away, the Germans were entrenched, and 
they also occupied positions to the right and 
left. It was a difficult spot, but it had to be 
held, as it interfered with the plan of encircling 
the fort, which the enemy had been trying to 
carry through for many weeks. In this part of 
the country, where 280 mm. shells were flung 
in packets of 10, everything was topsyturvy, 
all trenches were level, and there was not a 
shelter or dugout which offered security against 
the artillery, which was firing with such 
intensity as to prevent all work of repair. 

On June 1 at eight o'clock in the morning, 
after a short struggle, the Germans managed to 
carr3' a small length of French trench, -which 
jutted out west of R.I. They were then seen 
advancing in single file along the lake, trying to 
filter through towards the slopes of Fumin 
Wood. Two French machine guns at once 
stopped their progress. R.I. was not attacked ; 
there was nothing but an exchange of shots and 
grenades v/ith the trench opposite. The 
bombardment continued throughout the night. 
Food and drink could not get up to the trench, 
where the men were beginning to suffer from 
thirst. No one complained about it. Each 
man had an ample provision of grenades by his 
side, and packing cases full of them were dotted 
about close up to the trench. At 5.30 in the 
evening the rain of 105 and 130 shells was 
tropical. At eight o'clock the enemy left their 
trench and advanced on R.I. They were met 
with a hail of grenades, and streamed back to 
their trench in disorder. The order was given 
to send up a rocket asking our artillery to throw 

out a curtain fire in front of R.I. By bad luck, 
before the rocket was got off, it burst and set 
fire to all the stock of rockets. Fire and smoke 
tilled the trench, and red and green flames rose 
above it. Those at a distance could not under- 
stand what had happened, and wondered whether 
the enemy was attacking with liquid fire, or had 
turned the French position. In the trencli 
everyone was calm, officers and men joining in 
the work of placing the stock of grenades out of 
danger. At 10 o'clock the fire was mastered, 
emd at the same time, a reward arrived ; 1 (i 
pints of water were brought through from Fumin 
Wood, and divided immediately — one mouthful 
to each man. 

There was a pause until half -past two on the 
morning of June 3, when the enemy again 
attacked. "This time," said the captain who 
commanded the trench, " we must be more 
patient. Last time we were too quick." The 
enemy were allowed to come within about 
15 paces, before they were struck down by 
grenades and rifle fire. One German, who had 
got up to within three yards of the trench, 
received a grenade right in his face, and fell 
on the parapet. The officers were throwing 
bombs with as much zest as their men. By a 
last effort the Germans were beaten back, and 
at half -past three all was over. 

The trench, however, was still isolated by the 
enemy's curtain fire, and the men suffered more 
from thirst than from the enemy. Luckily it 
began to rain. Canvas was spread out, and 
in other receptacles water was gathered. 
Throughout the day the bombardment con- 
tinued, and the Germans, who had succeeded in 
advancing in the trenches on the right and on 
the slopes of the fort, got a machine gun into 
position, and opened enfilading fire upon R.I. 





French troops in a trench getting ready to advance. 

Another machine gun in Fumin Wood swept the 
left of the trench. After a further burst of 
bombardment, between 1.30 and 7.30, German 
waves again rolled up to the French line, and 
were again thrown back. The night was passed 
under intense bombardment, and at three 
o'clock in the morning the. enemy again came 
on ; but the French had acquired complete 

confidence in their grenades during the three 
days' fighting, and gave them a warm reception. 
By dawn the Germans had once more been 
repulsed. The first light of day lit up an extra- 
ordinary picture in the French trend). Every 
stone was splashed with blood ; the ground was 
littered with all kinds of debris, shell splinters, 
and more ghastly evidences of battle. For 24 




I ^^1 

I^H^^B^^H^Bsti igg ^^^^a 


Gun of 155 mm. (6 in.) calibre which did 

more hours the bombardment continued, but 
the enemy was mastered, and at nine o'clock 
on June 5 the gallant garrison of the trench 
was relieved. The Colonel of the 101st, in 
reporting to the General commanding the 124th 
Division, during the thick of the fight, had said : 
" \V r e are fighting to the end. Both men and 
officers, who have shown the most splendid 
devotion and self-sacrifice beyond praise, are 
determined to fall to a man in the defence of 
their trench." 

While both east and west of the fort fighting 
of this nature was going on all along the line, 
the attack upon the fort itself was developing. 
The Germans knew that it was beyond their 
strength to carry the fort by direct assault. 
They had got a footing on the slopes in March, 
and although they had done their utmost 

excellent duty in the defence of Verdun. 

they had been unable to progress. In the 
weeks which followed they endeavoured to 
invest the position. Their infantry held the 
north and pushed down east and west, but 
their constant efforts to close the circle in the 
south had failed. Their artillery accomplished 
what their infantry had been unable to effect. 
The whole southern slope of Vaux was covered 
with a curtain fire of heavy shell, which formed 
a wall of steel and high explosive and com- 
pleted the encircling of the fort. 

It was estimated that since March the 
Germans had flung no less than 8,000 heavy 
shells a day on to this position. During the 
latter days of the defence of Vaux this figure 
had greatly grown. The fort itself was torn 
and twisted by explosion. The usual entrance 
was completely blocked up, and for long the 



German shell exploding and destroying a small station in the line of fire. 

only way into the fort was through a wicket 
in the north-western corner. It was through 
this gate that, in spite of tremendous difficulties, 
communications had been maintained and 
supplies kept up. 

Mr. Warner Allen, the special representative 
of the British Press, in an account based upon 
official information, wrote : 

The fort itself was completely demolished by the 
explosion. In this hell-hole a little garrison under 
Major Raynal continued to resist. 

Around the fort all work was impossible. Trenches 
were demolished while they were being dug. A man 
had to wait for hours and choose his moment if he was 
to have the slightest chance of passing. On June 1 the 
enemy began a terrific attack. Under the violence of 
their fire certain elements of the French advanced line 
retired. A few men, slightly wounded, seeking for some 
shelter against the rain of shell, made their way into the 
ruins of the fort, and were an embarrassment to the 
garrison rather than a reinforcement. 

The next day the German advance made it impossible 

to use the north-western postern. Henceforth the fort 
was deprived of the only communication with the French 
lines. Since it was impossible for dispatch bearers to 
get through an attempt was made to communicate by 
signals. Signallers were posted at a window to com- 
municate with other signallers just over a mile away. 
But the scheme did not work satisfactorily — Vaux could 
not see the signals distinctly. A volunteer came forward 
to carry the news through the zone of death. He 
managed to escape the German fire, though not a 
movement passed undetected by the Germans. The 
signaller's position was changed, and he returned to 
his post in the fort, his object accomplished. A young 
officer named Bessett succeeded in leaving the fort with 
a report, and then went back to encourage his comrades, 
whom he refused to desert. 

A private in the 124th Division, Stretcher-bearer 
Vanier, worked untiringly with the wounded, hiding 
them among the ruins, and bandaging their wounds. 
When he had no wounded to tend he went out to fetch 
water, for water was the most serious problem of all. 

Throughout the battle of Verdun thirst has been one 
of the most terrible trials to which the soldiers have 
been submitted. Letters captured on German prisoners 
continually refer to it. Troops were entirely isolated 



by curtains of shell fire on a narrow front, making all 
movement impossible. Darkness was the only pro- 
tection ; but in June the nights are short, and star- 
shells were continually blazing. 

Isolated men succeeded in passing, but at terrible 
risk, with a tiny supply of water. But the task of 
providing 150 men with water, to say nothing of 400 
more who had taken refuge in the fort, was beyond 
human power. From outside attempts were made to 
send water into the fort, but not one was successful. 
Yet the fort was held, and held for four days more. 

The enemy advanced on the higher ground, but the 
French organized the ruins of the buildings inside the 
fort. At every window, at every opening, behind the 
dibris of a wall machine-guns were placed, picked shots 
took refuge, and every German who reached the court- 
yard of the fort was shot down. Barricades were raised 
at every corner, and piles of German corpses lay before 

The Germans tried the experiment of letting down 
at the end of a cord baskets full of grenades, and, when 
these baskets were on a level with the windows held by 
the French, they dropped into them a grenade with a 
time-fuse and swung them in through the opening to 
explode inside. But still the garrison fought on. 

There is, however, a limit to human endurance. The 
last message sent by Major Raynal ran as follows : 

We are near the end. Officers and soldiers have 
done their whole duty. Vive la France ! 
June 6 was the final day. In the morning Vanier, 
with a few wounded who were determined not to be 
taken alive, escaped through a grating. They crawled 
towards the French lines, but several of them were 
killed. Those who won through were full of joy. 
When his colonel congratulated him, Vanier, who 
already holds the Military Medal and the War Cross 
with two palms, replied, " Mon Colonel, I would rather 
be killed than be taken by the Boches." This is the 
last definite news received concerning the Fort of 
Vaux. The same day our aeroplanes observed thick 
columns of smoke and explosions in what was once the 

The defence of Vaux was one of the finest 
examples of French doggedness, and the 
French Government, departing from a rule 
which up till then had always been observed, 
for the first time mentioned an officer by name 
in a communique, and held up to the admira- 
tion of the world Major Raynal, the commander 
of the fort. Before the fort fell it was announced 
that he had been promoted to the rank of com- 
mander in the Legion of Honour. He was one 
of those French officers who had won their way 
up from the ranks in a life of steady hard work. 
He was severely wounded on September 14, 
1914, and mentioned in dispatches as follows : 
" Commanding the advance guard of his 
regiment, and having come into close contact 
with strongly entrenched enemy forces, imme- 
diately placed his battalion on supporting 
points, and maintained it there under the fire 
of infantry, machine guns, and heavy artillery. 
Severely wounded in the afternoon, he retained 
the command of his battalion, staying in the first 
line, in order the better to control the fighting 
in difficult and covered country, until he was 
obliged by loss of blood to go to the rear." 

Before his wounds were healed he was 
clamouring to get back to the fighting, and 
as the medical board refused to pass him for 
service in the field, he asked for a fortress 
command, and was given Vaux. 

The gallantry of Major Raynal 's defence 
moved the enemy to admiration, and he was 
permitted by the German Crown Prince to 
retain his sword, on his removal to Mainz. It 
was from the Germans that he learned of the 
honour bestowed upon him by the French 
Republic, and in special recognition of his 
gallantry, the insignia of his new rank in the 
Legion of Honour were conferred upon his wife 
at a special review at the Invalides. 

The effect of the fall of Vaux in its moral 
aspect was merely to strengthen French 
determination, and the effect upon the enemy 
of the resistance put up there was shown in the 
German Press. The special correspondent of 
the Berliner Tageblatt, after paying a tribute 
to the heroism and tenacity of the Vaux garrison, 
thus related a conversation he had had with 
a French soldier captured in Caillettes Wood : 
" I said, 'We've got Vaux Fort.' The French- 
man calmly said, ' Well ? ' and then, with a 
smile full of irony, added, ' Perhaps you've got 
Souville also ? ' This extraordinary optimism 
of the French makes one really despair." 

The value of Vaux in the general reduction 
of Verdun proved to be small, but its fall was 
the necessary preface to the beginning of a 
direct operation against Souville. The front 
formed after the fall of Vaux, going from west to 
east, ran through Hill 321, north of Froide Terre 
Ridge, Thiaumont work, Fleury village, and 
the woods of Chapitr.?, Fumin, Chenois, and 
La Laufee, which formed the approaches to 
Souville and Tavannes. The only road open 
to the Germans lay down the valley which 
separated Froide Terre Ridge from the table- 
land upon which were the forts of Souville 
and Tavannes. The entrance to this valley 
was blocked by Fleury village, but before the 
enemy could hope to carry this they had to 
obtain possession of Thiaumont work. 

After a prolonged pause, following the fall 
of Vaux Fort, the systematic attack upon this 
line was begun. From June 19 to June 22 
this attack bore down in three main directions, 
upon Ridge 321, Th'aumont work, and Fleury. 
The main assault was delivered on June 23, 
when nearly a hundred thousand men were 
flung upon a front which measured barely 
three miles. In the first sector in the west 



Phiaumont work was the main objective. 
Between ridges 321 and 320 — that is to say, 
on a front of just over a mile, no less than three 
divisions were engaged. The attack began 
at eight o'clock in the morning, and it was not 
till the afternoon, when - fresh troops had 
been brought up to strengthen the shattered 
divisions, that the first small breach was made 
in the French line. The point of this break 
was just east of Thiaumont Work, and at two 
in the afternoon the Germans flung a tre- 
mendous concentration of men upon the spot, 
burst right through the line, and poured right 
over the Tliiaumont position. 

Upon Fleury their action was not so rapidly 
successful. At one moment in the day they 
managed indeed to reach the village, but were 
flung out of it again with very heavy losses. 
By June 25, after further murderous assaults, 
the enemy had succeeded in driving a wedge 
between the two main positions of the French, 
and had gained possession of Fleury village. 
For a moment matters had looked very black 
indeed, and it had seemed as though the 
German General Staff had been able to profit 
by the critical moment which follows retreat 
to push forward and complete the disorganiza- 
tion of the defence. The French counter- 
attacks at Fleury, however, upset their cal- 
culations, and the Germans were destined for 
long to remain unable to exploit their pos- 
session of Fleury village. 

While Fleury was still the scene of hotly con- 
tjsted grenade fighting, already in the north, on 

the British front, a prolonged bombardment 
foreshadowed coming events. The time was at 
hand when the patient, if belated, efforts of 
the Allies to ensure co-ordination, to have — as 
M. Briand, the originator of the Allied con- 
ferences, put the matter — unity of action 
upon unity of front, were to come to fruition. 
Away on the Eastern front the Russians were 
striding from victory to victory. On the 
Southern front the Italians had stemmed the 
threatened Austrian invasion, and were pre- 
paring a vigorous reaction. On the Western 
front also, the initiative was about to be wrested 
from the enemy's hands. 

The Alhes, in dealing with this question of 
co-ordination, were at a disadvantage, as com- 
pared with their enemies. The Entento 
alliance was one of free and great peoples, 
proud of their independence, and jealous of 
their heritage in history. It was impossible 
for one of them to impose his will, his policy, 
and Ins leading upon all the others, as Germany 
did upon Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and 
Turkey. Nevertheless, much had been accom- 
plished in the series of conferences held 
in France and in England, and the most 
complete unity of view had been obtained. 
The rumours which were spread about by men 
of little faith in France, as to the unwillingness of 
Britain to take up her full share of the burden 
pressing on the French, spread very naturally 
owing to the anxiety of the moment throughout 
the country and across the Channel. As day 
after day the Germans slowly pressed in upon 

The first week and the first four months. 


7 a 

The spirit of France at Fleury. 

the Meuse capital, the waiting for relief from 
the British placed a great strain upon the 
judgment and the faith of all. A good cor- 
rective to this anxiety was delivered by Mr. 
Bonar Law on his arrival for the Economic 
Conference in Paris, when he said that on two 
occasions the British Army had been placed at 
the disposal of General Joffre, and was ready, 
and had long been ready, to carry out all that 
might be asked of it. The whole world 
waited on the tip-toe of expectation for the 
striking of that hour. 

It was everywhere realized that the French 
at Verdun had been fighting for time. As 

Sir Edward Grey pointed out, they were fighting 
not for France alone, but for the whole alliance. 
If the French had failed there the whole arch 
of allied cooperation would have tumbled to 
the ground, the' machinery of victory would 
have been flung out of gear, and many a long 
month added to the duration of the war. The 
enemy failed, and the extent of his failure can 
only be appreciated by a rapid survey of 
events since the beginning of his offensive on 
February 21. 

The original aim of the offensive had been 
the capture of Verdun. The first few days of 
the battle brought the Germans to Douaumont, 




















and within sight of Douaumont they were 
still fighting when the joint offensive on the 
Somme began on July 1. When, after the 
first two months of the battle, it became clear 
that Verdun was not to be captured, except 
at appalling cost, the objective was changed. 
The Germans were told that the offensive was 
purely defensive in character, that it aimed at 
destroying the military power of France, at 
preventing any possibility of co-ordinated 
action on the Western front. The magnificent 
dash made by the French south of the Somme 
in the first days of July proved how complete 
had been German defeat in this direction. 
General Joffre declared on the occasion of the 
second anniversary of the war : 

The great sacrifices which France has supported at 
Verdun have given our Allies time to build up their 
resources, have enabled us to mature our plans and 
carry them out with perfect appreciation of the neces- 
sities of all fronts. We are now able to employ all our 
resources simultaneously in a thoroughgoing way. I 
desire to pay homage to the manner wherein all the 
Allies are fulfilling their part. 

Drawing on her inexhaustible resources Russia has 
been afforded time to bring forward men in ever-increas- 
ing numbers, and is now deploying her huge armies with 
telling effect in Galieia, Volhynia, and Armenia. Great 
Britain, too, has had time in the past two years to show 
the world the extent of her varied resources. Her 
troops are proving their splendid valour on the Somme, 
showing what a determined nation can do in such times 
as these. No doubt Italy has a difficult and limited part 
to play in a more restricted sphere of action, but her 
troops are fulfilling their role splendidly. The Serbian 
Army is beginning at this moment to enter the firing- 
line anew. 

After this brief review of the position of the 
Allied armies General Joffre outlined the Ger- 
man situation in a few crisp sentences : 

We know positively that our enemies, although 
fighting as desperately as ever, are drawing on their 
last reserves. Up to now they have followed the policy 
of transferring their reserves from one place to another, 
but in face of the Allies' united effort they now find it 
impossible, and will find it increasingly impossible in 
future, to pursue such methods. All our sources of 
information confirm that. 

It is not for me to say how long this struggle is going 
to last, but the question matters little. We know that 
the rupture is coming. ^ou, no doubt, feel as well as 
we do, that we have reached the turning point. The 
five months' resistance of the French troops at Verdun, 
has shattered the plans of the German Staff* and brought 
us round the corner, heading for victory. Don't, how- 
ever, imagine that there is yet a marked weakening of 
the German effort on the western front. Two-thirds of 
their finest troops are still opposed to us on this side. 
The English and French face 122 of their best divisions. 
On the Russian front the Germans have 50 divisions 
to which must, of course, be added the Austrian Armies. 

I won't go into details on the condition and temper 
of the French Army. You cannot do better than avail 
yourself of the facilities to see our troops in the field with 
your own eyes. You will see the Army as it is after two 
years of the hardest fighting. You will see an Army 
of which the spirit and energy have been vastly increased 
by this bitter struggle. To that I can add that the 
number of our troops at the front is greater now than at 
the beginning of the war. I can think of no more 
eloquent fact than that as illustrating France's capacity 
for waging a just war. The country is determined to 
see the war to a victorious conclusion. The Allies are 
fighting not merely for the respective interests of their 
countries, but for the liberty of the world, and will not 
stop till the world's liberty is definitely assured. 

The magnificent spectacle of French heroism 
at Verdun had robbed the Germans of that 



moral victory which, to judga from their 
campaign of lies, they held most dear. The 
doggsdness of the poilu aroused the admiration 
of the world. Everywhere, even in Germany, 
Verdun was regarded as symbolizing the whole 
fighting spirit of France — the spirit which found 
itself admirably translated in Orders of the Day 
issued by General Joffre and General Nivelle. 

On June 12 the Generalissimo, in informing 
the troops of the Russian successes in Galicia, 
wrote : " The plan elaborated by the councils 
of the coalition is now in full course of execution. 
Soldiers of Verdun, this is due to your heroic 
resistance, which has been the indispensable 
condition for success. All our future victories 
are based upon it. It is your resistance wdiich 
has created throughout the whole theatre of the 
European War a situation from which will be 
born to-morrow the final triumph of our 

On June 23 General Nivelle in Army Orders 
said : " The hour is decisive. The Germans, 
feeling themselves hunted down on every hand, 
are launching furious and desperate attacks 
upon our front, in the hope of reaching the gates 
of Verdun before themselves being attacked by 
the united forces of the Allied Armies. You will 

not let them pass, my comrades. The country 
demands this further supreme effort. The 
Army of Verdun will not allow itself to be intimi- 
dated by shells, and by German infantry, whose 
efforts it has destroyed during the past four 
months. The Army of Verdun will keep its 
glory intact." 

At a later date General Nivelle, in acquainting 
his men with the address of praise sent to them 
by the French Academy, added : " It is one of 
the greatest sources of pride for the Verdun 
Army to have earned the testimony of the great 
assembly which incarnates and immortalizes 
the genius of the French tongue and the French 
race. The Army of Verdun has had the good 
fortune to answer to the appeal addressed to it 
by the country. Thanks to its heroic tenacity 
the offensive of the Allies has already made 
brilliant progress . . . and the Germans are 
not at Verdun. But their task is not yet 
finished. No Frenchman will have earned his 
rest so long as there remains a single enemy upon 
the soil of France, of Alsace, or Lorraine. In 
order to enable the allied offensive to develop in 
freedom, and later on to lead us to final victory, 
we shall continue to resist the assaults of our 
implacable enemies, who, in spite of the sacrifice 


French Officers watching effect of Artillery fire. 




of the half -million men which Verdun has 
already cost them, have not given up their vain 
hopes. And, soldiers of the Eleventh Army, you 
will not be content with resistance ; you will go 
on biting in order to keep in front of you by a 
constant threat the largest possible number of 
enemy forces, until the approaching hour of the 
general offensive has struck. The past is a 
guarantee of the future ; you will not fail in 
your sacred mission, and you will thus acquire 
further claims upon the gratitude of your 
country, and of the allied nations." 

The effect upon Germany may be clearly 
indicated in a few quotations from the German 
Press, which towards the middle of June, with 
the Bussian victories in process of development, 
looked at the great gamble of Verdun with 
somewhat melancholy eyes. The Kolnische 
Volkszeitung, for instance, the chief organ of the 
Roman Catholic Centre party, which had 
distinguished itself from even the rest of the 
German Press by the virulence of its hatred of 
France, published towards the end of June an 
article headed " The Goal Not Yet Reached," 




in which, after expressing its astonishment at 
the colossal Russian attacks in Galicia and 
Volhynia, it said : " On their side, the French, 
in spite of the considerable sacrifices they are 
making at Verdun, are continuing a resistance 
which will take its place among the great 
military feats of all ages. They are proving 
that they will shrink from nothing in order to 
deprive us of the benefits of our past victories. 
No one knows when or how this war will finish, 
nor whether certain past hopes will be realized. 
It is better not to speak about it." 

The Hamburger Fremdenblatt, in the same 
strain of censored melancholy, said : "It does 
not matter much if Verdun fall or not. Posses- 
sion of this or of that fortress is of little value. 
What we must know is if the war is going to be 
of profit to one of the belligerent Powers, and if 
that profit is worth the price it will cost." 

Neutral opinion summed up the situation 
created by the splendid defence of Verdun in 
the words of a Spanish paper : " In no sector 
of the vast front which they defend will the 
Germans be able to make a finer effort than that 
of Verdun, and, if they are not victorious in 
front of the great Lorraine fortress, the Empire 

is lost, for it will not have the necessary 
elements for defence against simultaneous 

Perhaps the most striking testimony to the 
value of the stand at Verdun is to be found in a 
study of the disposition of the Allied troops in 
France. Apart from the relief of the French 
trench army by the British the German offensive 
had led to no considerable change. The Ger- 
mans had every advantage to gain by forcing on 
an attack by the British, by obliging Britain to 
carry out big operations before the training of 
her new Armies and the provision of her new 
artillery rendered such operations advisable. 
They failed in this, as they had failed in driving 
home every one of their partial successes in the 

The fighting at Verdun was by no means over. 
It was destined to remain for long an open sore. 
Both Germans and French saw in it a means of 
relieving pressure on the Somme, but as will be 
seen, the whole aspect of the struggle before 
Verdun was changed when the French and 
British leapt from their trenches on both sides 
of the Somme, in the great offensive that began 
on July 1. 





The Winter of 1915 — Situation in the Speing — The Col di Lana — Capture of the Adamello 
Glacier — Austrian Concentration in the Trentino — Analysis of the May Offensive — 
Inadequate Italian Preparations — Description of the Austrian Gains — Threat to the 
Venetian Plain — General Cadorna's Plans — The New Fifth Army' — The Turn of the 
Tide — Austrian Retirement — Results of the Campaign — The Political Situation — 
Decline and Fall of the Salandra Government — Italy and Germany' — National Demand 
for More Vigorous Prosecution of the Was — A National Government under Boselli. 

THE first months of 1916 saw an 
inevitable lull on the Italian front. 
Our Allies had carried on offensive 
operations right up to the turn of 
the year, well beyond the limit which had 
seemed to be set by weather conditions, 
but winter could no longer be defied. Deep 
snow covered the mountains and all the upper 
valleys, and mist began to lie thick on the lower 
ground, especially on the Isonzo, preventing 
accurate artillery preparation and support. 
By Christmas men were coming South on leave, 
and they continued to be sent home in relay? 
throughout the winter and early spring. 

There was a lull during these months, as far 
as heavy fighting went, but all winter through 
the opposing armies were feeling for each other, 
worrying each other, testing each other's lines 
for weak points, harassing communications by 
long-range artillery fire, and, above all, working 
to make ready against the coming of spring. 
Only to keep the line on the mountain front 
meant bitter and ceaseless toil, for the snow 
and the Alpine storms imposed an effort and a 
strain greater than in any other theatre of war. 
To get food and fuel and clothing up to the 
front lines, at anything from 5,000 to 10,000 feet 
Vol. IX.— Part 107. 

above the sea, implied a struggle that can have 
no parallel in warfare. The Austrians were no 
longer the chief enemy. Frostbite threatened 
continually, and the rigours of a winter at 
extreme altitudes found out any weakness in 
physique. On the whole the health of the 
troops was wonderful. The dangers of frostbite 
were minimized by the provision of special foot- 
gear and by insistence upon proper precautions, 
while the well-equipped encampments that were 
huddled among the snows gave ■ adequate 
shelter against the terrible driving tempests that 
sweep the Alps in winter. The task of furnish- 
ing supplies was made difficult and dangerous 
by frequent avalanches. A number of supply 
trains were buried on their way to the front 
lines, and a loss of this kind was a double 
disaster. Not only was the convoy destroyed, 
but men at the front had sometimes to go 
hungry and cold for lack of food and fuel, for 
it took time to re-open communications. The 
problem was eventually solved, or nearly solved, 
by the construction of teleferiche or filovie (they 
went by both names at the front) — aerial cable 
railways that carried a load of nearly half a 
ton. In this way supplies and munitions were 
rapidly conveyed to the highest points, and 





where this method of transit was possible 
the danger from avalanches was largely 

All along the front the work of fortification 
and preparation went on. The hard -won 
positions on the Carso were made much less 
" unhealthy " by the construction of main and 
communication trenches cut deep in the rock, 
and by the excavation of dug-outs which were 
really " blasted-outs." The task of the Italians 
in this sector had been made much more arduous 
owing to the difficulty of constructing and 
adapting trenches as they advanced, and by 
the lack of cover for supporting troops. Their 
lines were greatly strengthened during the 
winter, and while this ensured smaller losses 
in the event of an Austrian attack, they also 
provided a much better " take-off " for a 
forward movement. 

Military and political conferences at Paris in 
March, 1916, following upon M. Briand's visit 
to Rome, showed that the idea of united and 
simultaneous action had finally been accepted 
by each member of the Quadruple Entente, and 
in Italy, as elsewhere, the day when all the 
Allies should strike together was eagerly ex- 
pected. At the end of March, when the 
tremendous pressure brought against the French 
lines round Verdun seemed almost to go beyond 

human resistance, there was a considerable 
movement in Italy in favour of sending direct 
assistance to France. Senator Humbert's ap- 
peals in the French Press were backed by 
various Italian newspapers and found special 
support among the " Interventionists of the 
Left," who looked with favour on any step 
which should associate Italy more closely and 
clearly with her Allies. As the military 
authorities, and those who were aufait with the 
general situation, realized, and as events were 
later to prove, such a step would have done no 
service to the common cause. But the desire 
for united action was growing ever stronger, and 
when the Italian guns began to thunder on the 
Isonzo, at the end of March, there was a general 
feeling of satisfaction throughout the country. 
The heavy bombardment which took place, and 
the infantry actions which followed, were in 
fact only a " bluff," though considerable losses 
were incurred on both sides. No general attack 
was intended ; the increase of activity was duo 
to the news that Austrian guns were being sent 
to France, and it was essential to prevent any 
such movement. 

During April two actions of special interest, 
if not of first-class importance, took place on the 
mountain front. It has been explained in 



Chapter CIX.* how after the taking of Col di 
Lana on November 9, it was found impossible 
to hold the summit so gallantly won by Colonel 
" Peppino " Garibaldi. The Italians held the 
greater part of the mountain, but the Austrians 
still clung to the far slope of the main psak. It 
was decided to tunnel through the peak during 
the winter months and blow the Austrian gar- 
rison off its last foothold on tire mountain 
which had seen so much hard fighting. The 
operation, which took three months to complete, 
was entirely successful. A fortnight before the 
work was finished the Austrians realized their 
danger and drove counter -mines into the moun- 
tain. One of these was exploded, but its direc- 
tion was wrong, and on the night of April 17 
the vast Italian mine was touched off, and the 
fragments of the Austrian position were rushed 
by an infantry attack. The mine crater was 
1 50 feet wide and nearly 50 feet deep. For some 
days the Austrian artillery fire from the west 
made things very uncomfortable for the 
Italians, but the new lines were soon firmly 
established, and a further advance was made 
along the ridges of Monte Sief and the Settsass. 
* Vol. VII., p. 76. 

About the time that the Col di Lana mine 
wa? nearing completion, the commander of a 
" group " of Alpini, Colonel Giordana, was pre- 
paring an attack that stands alone in the history 
of mountain warfare. On the western frontier 
of the Trentino, the Adamello range, with its 
vast glacier, seemed to oppose an impassable 
barrier between the Italians and the valleys that 
run down from it towards the Adige. In the 
summer of 1915 small raiding parties had 
fought on the glacier, and on the dreary rocks 
that rise above it, but Colonel Giordana be- 
lieved that by this seemingly impossible route 
the Austrian lines might be seriously invaded. 
His plans were compromised by the necessity 
of detaching the greater part of his command 
to another sector of the front, but he deter- 
mined to carry out the first portion of his scheme, 
the seizure of the Austrian positions on the far 
side of the glacier, with the lessened forces that 
remained to him. 

The huge Adamello glacier is cut by three 
rock ridges running roughly parallel, north and 
south. The eastern and western ridges are 
almost on the edge of the glacier, and these were 
lightly held by Austrian and Italian posts. But 

An Italian surprise-attack across a river. 



eavly in April the Austrians sent forward out- 
posts to the central ridge, which runs from 
Lobbia Bassa by Lobbia Alta and Dosson di 
Genova to Mont3 Fumo. They were not long 
left in peace. On the night of April 11, 300 
Alpini, clothed in their white winter uniform, 
left the Rifugio Garibaldi on skis and reached 
the glacier by way of the Brizio Pass. Here, at 
10,000 feet above the sea, they entered a region 
that is polar in its aspect — and in its severity, 
for here they met with a wild Arctic storm. They 
lost their way in the turmoil of wind and snow, 
but kept going all night to escape the death that 
would have gripped them if they stopped. The 
morning found them scattered over the glacier. 
All hope of surprise was gone, and the Austrians 
had machine guns on the central ridge. They 

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divided into two columns, and in spite of their 
weariness and heavy losses, succeeded in storm- 
ing the Austrian positions on Lobbia Alta and 
Dosson di Genova. The Austrians were nearly 
all killed or captured. But this was only the 
first step. Seventeen days later, on the evening 
of April 29, 2,000 Alpini set out from the 
Rifugio Garibaldi. It was a very clear, starry 
night, and by 5 o'clock in the morning the 
Alpini, who were in three columns, found them- 
selves under the eastern ridge. The central 
column had the easiest work. The Austrians 
had left the highest point, Crozzon di Lares, to 
shelter on a lower saddle. When they sighted 
the Alpini beneath them it was a race for 
the peak, but the Alpini outpaced the enemy 
and were first by a few minutes. By the occu- 
pation of the Crozzon di Lares the lower saddle 
and the Passo di Lares were completely domin- 

ated, and the Austrians made no attempt to 
attack, retiring eastwards along the ridge that 
runs to the Crozzon del Diavolo. The northern 
column had a stiff fight before it could gain 
possession of the Topeti Pass and the peak to 
the north of it, the Crozzon di Fargorida, but 
here, too, the Austrians were driven back. The 
southern column had a harder task. The 
approaching march, by way of "the English- 
men's Pass," between the highest peak of the 
Adamcllo and Corno Bianco, had been longer 
and more difficult, and the ridge that faced the 
advancing troops seemed to make a frontal 
attack impossible. The men were very weary ; 
one or two actually died of exhaustion and 
cold as they moved to the advance. A small 
flanking party was sent out under a volunteer 
officer, and while the main body advanced . 
slowly and drew the Austrian fire, this handful 
of men scaled a rock pinnacle north of the Passo 
di Cavento and turned the enemy's position. 
When the flanking party, after a two hours' 
climb, reached their goal, the main body 
attacked furiously, and after a struggle that 
lasted many hours the position was won. Most 
of the Austrians were killed or taken prisoners ; 
only a few succeeded in making their escapo 
across the Lares glacier. A fortnight later 
the Italians completed their occupation of the 
eastern ridge and also occupied the Crozzon del 
Diavolo, the highest point of the ridge that 
divides the Fargorida and Lares glaciers. The 
accounts of the undertaking emphasize the 
support given by the Italian artillery, which 
had been hoisted into impossible places. 
Even a battery of six-inch guns had been 
brought up to the western edge of the Adamello 

These are only the barest facts. It is im- 
possible to convey in a few words a just idea of 
the skill and toil and hardship involved in the 
conduct of the operations. A volunteer subal- 
tern who was with the southern column found 
the right word : "epic." Imagination must do 
the rest, and even imagination can only serve 
those who know the glaciers of the high Alps, 
not in the tourist season, but when the year is 
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down to the Val Giudicaria, and particularly the 
Val di Genova. The occupation of the new 
positions enabled the Italians to threaten from 
the flank the Austrian lines opposing the Italian 
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Gross orderlies, at a hospital tent, control the descent. 




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that the operations might be fruitful of result 
as the season became more favourable.* 

It has been said that Colonel Giordana had 
to see the withdrawal of the greater part of his 
command at the very moment when he was 
preparing his arduous enterprise. This with- 
drawal was due to the expectation of an Aus- 
trian offensive on an important scale to the 
east of the Adige valley. The Italian Intelli- 
gence Department was aware of a very large 
concentration of men and material in the 
neighbourhood of Trento, and it was evident 
that the Austrians were preparing for operations 
on a scale quite different from anything that 
had been hitherto seen on that part of the 
front. In view of the terrain, the greatest 
possible number of Alpine troops were dis- 
patched to the scene of the expected fighting, 
and Colonel Giordana's men were sent to the 
Eastern Trentino. 

* Colonel Giordana was promoted Hajor-General, and 
transferred to the Eastern Trentino, where he was 
shortly afterwards killed. 

The Austrian concentration had been carried 
out very gradually. The Trentino front had 
been reinforced at the end of November, 1915. 
and all through the winter troops and guns were 
being quietly conveyed from the Russian front, 
or from the depots and munition factories within 
the Empire. It was certainly the belief of the 
Austrian Command that the Russians would bo 
incapable of any important offensive action in 
the early summer, and they had every hope 
that they would be able to carry out what the 
heir to the Habsburg throne, in an address to 
his troops, termed a " Straf -expedition," before 
any danger could threaten from the East. The 
Italian Command, of course, knew what the 
enemy did not know, the real condition of the 
Russian armies, and they doubtless assumed 
that the enemy Intelligence Department was 
better informed than it actually was. Doubt- 
less, also, they were misled by the gradualness 
and secrecy with which the Austrians carried 
out their preparations. In any event, they 
miscalculated the extent of the coming Austrian 



effort. They believed in a hard push, and took 
measures to meet it, though on certain parts of 
the line the local commanders had not realized 
the absolute necessity of unlimited spadework, 
in the literal sense. But the Italian Command 
was not prepared for the hammer-stroke that 
came in the middle of May. 

On May 14 the Austrians began a very heavy 
bombardment along the whole front from the 
Val Giudicaria to the sea, but it was quickly 
evident, even if it had not already been fore- 
seen, that the enemy's offensive was to be 
concentrated upon the comparatively short 
front between the Val Lagarina and the Val 
Sugana, and particularly upon the sector be- 
tween the Val Lagarina and the Upper Astico. 
On May 1 5 the Austrians followed up the initial 
bombardment by massed infantry attacks all 
along this sector. 

Here it will be well to recapitulate the infor- 
mation given in Chapter CIX. regarding the 
positions which the Italians held in the Eastern 
Trentino, and to add a further description of 
the terrain which was to be the scene of a long 
and desperate struggle. 

When the Austrian attack began, the Italian 
line east of the Val Lagarina ran from just 
south of Rovereto up the Val Terragnolo north 

of Col Santo (6,830 feet), which is the northern 
ridge of the great Pasubio massif (highest point 
7,335 feet), as far as Monte Maronia (5,540 feet) ; 
thence in front of the Folgaria group of fortifica- 
tions to Soglio d'Aspio (4,375 feet). From Soglio 
dAspio it bent back eastward. The Italians 
had made no impression on the fortified lines 
of the Lavarone plateau and their positions 
followed a line not far west of the old frontier 
as far as Cima Manderiolo (6,665 feet) ; whence 
they ran northward across the Valle Maggio 
and the Val Sugana to Monte Collo, a point 
north-west of Borgo ; thence north-eastward 
to the Val Calamento. There were other 
advanced posts outside this main line, but they 
were of little importance, and indeed it is mis- 
leading to term this the main line, though it 
was all effectively occupied by Italian troops. 
There were certain positions, the occupation 
of which formed part of an offensive scheme, 
which were obviously untenable in the face of 
an Austrian attack in force. Zugna Torta and 
the slopes leading down to Rovereto formed a 
dangerously exposed salient, commanded from 
the west by the Austrian positions on Biaena, 
on the north by Monte Ghello, and on the north- 
east by the fortified lines of Finonchio. The 
lines in the Val Terragnolo were very much 
exposed, and Soglio d'Aspio, flanked by the 





great Lavarone-Luserna plateau on the north, 
was practically in the air. The real Italian 
defensive line ran from Serravalle in the Val 
Lagarina by Malga Zugna across the Vallarsa 
to Pasuhio ; from Pasubio by the Borcola Pass 
to Monte Maggio (5,730 feet), and thence, 
leaving the exposed frontier, by Monte Toraro 
(6,175 feet), and Monte Campomolon (6,030 feet ) 
to Spitz Tonezza (5,512 feet) ; thence along the 
highest part of the Sette Comuni plateau to 
Cima Portule (7,510 feet), and thence across the 
Val Sugana to the slopes east of the Maso 

But this lino was not satisfactory, especially 
the sector between the Val Posina and the Upper 
Astico. Experience had shown that massed 
infantry attacks, if preceded by a sufficiently 
shattering artillery fire, can generally win a 
footing in the first-line system of defences. In 
level or nearly level country the various lines of 
defence may follow one another at very short 
intervals, and the breaking of a section of the 
front line need not very greatly affect the 
position as a whole. In hilly country the lines 
of defence are conditioned by the nature of the 
ground. A second line may have to be a 
considerable distance from the first, in order to 
give its defenders a fair chance of resistance, 
and the occupation of one dominating point in 
a line has a greater effect than it has in level 
country. Good positions in a mountainous 
country make the best line a defender can hope 
for. A bad mountain position leaves him much 
worse off than in the plains. 

Between the Val Posina and the Upper 
Astico the Italian position was bad. It has 
already been explained how the main defences 
of the Arsiero plateau had to run along the line 
Monte Ma.ggio, Monte Toraro, Monte Cam- 
pomolon, Spitz Tonezza. But this defensive 
line had nothing to back it. The ground falls 
away south-eastwards in a long glacis that 
drops steeply at last to the Posina valley on 
the south and the Astico on the east. The 
position was bad by nature, and only the most 
careful and complete preparation could have 
made it a really stout bulwark against a deter- 
mined attack. And that preparation was 

In the first place, the Italians were short of 
guns. This shortage had handicapped them 
in their attacks on the Isonzo line, and it had 
not yet been made up, though great progress 
had been effected in the output of war material, 
and France had supplied some heavy howit- 


Commanded the First Army. 

zers of a new type. In the second place, the 
dispositions taken by the general commanding 
the First Army, and by some of the local com- 
manders, were not only insufficient, but, as 
far as they went, unskilful. 

In Chapter CIX. it was said that in their 
gallant offensive actions on the Isonzo in 1915 
the Italians had suffered from a lack of techni- 
que in trench warfare. But the armies on the 
Isonzo, officers and men, had been gradually 
hammered by the stress of hard fighting into 
splendidly efficient weapons, well able to deal 
with the new conditions of war. In the Tren- 
tino it was otherwise. There had been a good 
deal of desultory fighting and a great deal of 
artillery work throughout the year that had 
elapsed since the beginning of the war. But 
no serious offensive had been undertaken by 
the Italians, and the enemy had never even 
tested the Italian lines. It seems certain that 
General Roberto Brusati, the General in com- 
mand of the First Army, had failed to realize 
the nature of a modern offensive on the grand 
scale, and that some of his officers were equally 
lacking in insight. It is understood that 
General Brusati fully believed in the imminence 
of the Austrian offensive, unlike some of his 
subordinates, who declared it to be practically 
impossible. If this be true, there is the less 



excuse for the condition of unpreparedncss in 
which a part of the front under Ms command 
was found to be 

It has been said that the Italian Command 
miscalculated the extent of the coming offen- 
sive. General Cadorna was correctly informed 
of the number of enemy troops concentrated 
in the Trent ino, and he had detailed sufficient 
reinforcements to cope with the attack which 
he expected. He did not expect, however, 
the immense weight of artillery which was 
massed upon the front between the Yal Laga- 
rina and the Yal Sugana. It would appear, too, 
that he did not exactly anticipate the direction 
of the Austrian attack. The Austrian concen- 
tration at Trento, and the excellent system of 
roads which branches south and south-east- 
wards through the Eastern Trentino, permitted 
an attacking force to be tlirown at any point 
on the Italian line. The Italian lateral com- 
munications in the uplands were not favourable. 
A great deal had been done in the way of making 
roads, but the lie of the country complicated 
the problem. General Cadorna's strategic 
reserves had to be concentrated in the plain, 
and from the course of the fighting which fol- 
lowed it seems that he had rather expected the 
main Austrian efforts to be directed against 
the wings of the Italian forces in the Eastern 
Trentino, along the parallel highways of the 
Val Lagarina and the Vallarsa on the west, 
and the Yal Sugana on the east. He had good 
grounds for such a calculation. There is a 
railway both in the Yal Lagarina and in the 
Val Sugana, and the terrain in the centre is 
very difficult for heavy artillery. An envelop- 
ing movement seemed on the whole more likely 
than a drive at the centre. 

Towards the end of April General Cadorna 
transferred his quarters to the First Army. It 
may be deduced that he was not satisfied with 
the dispositions taken, for within a few days 
General Brusati was deprived of his command,* 
and General Pecori-Giraldi was appointed to 
the First Army. General Pecori-Giraldi had 
been under a cloud when the war began. He 
had been sent home in disgrace from Tripoli 
at the end of 1911, on grounds which it was 
difficult to recognize as adequate, and there is 
too much reason to believe that political con- 
siderations led to his recall. General Cadorna 

* General Brusati was placed a dispositions on May 13. 
On May 25 his case was deliberated by the Cabinet, and 
he was retired from the Army by a special Government 

had always held a very high opinion of General 
Pecori-Giraldi, and when the war broke out 
he was given a division in reserve. He was 
soon transferred to the front line, where his 
work earned him promotion to the command 
of an army corps. He was now to be tested 
very severely. He took over the First Army 
too late to be able to repair the deficiencies in 
the preparations made by his predecessor, 
and before he had time to grip his command 
the enemy blow fell. 

The bombardment which opened the Austrian 
offensive came as a very unwelcome sin-prise 
to the defending army. It was at once evident 
that the amount of heavy and mediiun-calibre 
artillery at the enemy's disposal was very large 
in proportion to his numbers, and the storm of 
high explosive which was directed against the 
Italian lines soon found out the weak spots. 
The concentration of Austrian artillery was 
certainly formidable. Well over. 2,000 guns 
(one detailed account which should be correct 
put the number in the Trentino at 2,400) 
were collected on a front of less than 30 miles. 
Of these nearly 800 were of medium or large 
calibre. There were not less than 40 12-inch 
Skoda howitzers on the narrow front, and in 
addition there were three, or possibly four, 
German 420's, and a couple of 15-inch naval 
guns. At least eighteen Austrian divisions 
were concentrated in the Trentino, and the 
attacking force which was thrown against the 
front between the Val Lagarina and the Val 
Sugana consisted of 15 divisions, all of them 
picked first-line troops. In all some 350,000 
men were launched upon the StraJ "-expedition. 

It was soon clear that the main drive was to 
be in the centre. No fewer than 30 of the 
305's were massed on the Folgaria and Lavarone 
plateaux. In this sector, too, were the 420's, 
and the big naval guns. One of the latter 
was placed at Cost' Alta, near the road that 
runs from Monte Rovere to Vezzena under the 
old fort of Busa di Verle. From this point 
15-in. shells were flung into Asiago, 11 miles 
away. A torrent of high-explosive was poured 
unceasingly on the main Italian positions, 
and the roads leading up to them on the 
Asiago and Arsiero plateaux were subjected 
to a very severe tir de barrage. 

As the Austrian infantry attack developed 
the Italians withdrew from their advanced 
positions, taking heavy toll of the enemy 
before they went. The first forward move- 
ments took place on the wings, against Zugna 




A concealed Italian machine gun assisting an advance. The advancing infantry, on all fours, are 

carrying bags filled with sand on their backs to protect them from the flying bullets. 

Torta and the Armentera ridge (south of 
the Brenta, between Levico and Roncegno). 
The Italians lost a good many prisoners in 
the outlying positions near Rovereto, where 
they counter-attacked several times, but the 
enemy paid dearly for the ground won. On 

May 17 five separate infantry attacks on Zugna 
Torta were repulsed with heavy loss, but 
the following day Zugna Torta was evacuated, 
the Italians retiring upon their prepared 
positions at Malga Zugna. The Armentera 
ridge was evacuated two days later. Mean- 



COUNT OF TURIN (on right) 
In Command of Italian Cavalry. 

while the Austrian advance in the centre was 
developing under cover of a ceaseless fire from 
guns of every calibre. On May 18 the line 
running northward from Monte Maggio to 
Soglio d'Aspio was abandoned, in accordance 
with expectation, but the following day a 
very serious loss befell the Italians, who were 
driven off the Monte Toraro — Monte Campo- 
lon-Spitz Tonezza line. This was the sector of 
the Trentino front where preparation had 
been specially necessary and where it had 
been notably lacking. The troops, without 
adequate cover against the storm of heavy 
shells, had little chance, and they were further 
handicapped by a shortage of field and mountain 
artillery. The position seems to have been 
arranged as though the Italians were on the 
offensive. The big guns were well forward, 
and there were not enough field and mountain 
guns to hold back the advancing masses of the 
enemy. One brigade broke under the tre- 
mendous strain : the Austrians gained a footing 
on the main Italian line before reinforcements 
<;ould arrive, and took a very considerable 
number of prisoners. The Italian centre was 
now practically gone, and the Austrians were 
pressing hard on the left. The Italians had 
fallen back from Col Santo upon Pasubio, 
and both here and against C'oni Zugna a very 
strong attack was developing. Between the 

Astico and the Val Sugana the fighting was now 
equally furious. The Italians were holding 
their own, and had succeeded in winning back 
various points that they had lost in the first 
onslaught. But the whole position was pre- 
judiced by the loss of the only line that could 
defend the Arsiero plateau, and our Allies 
were outgunned in the Sette Comuni as well 
as farther south. On May 20 the Austrians 
pushed farther forward through the hole in 
the centre, occupying the Cimon dei Laghi 
and the Cima di Mesole. They also occupied 
the Borcola Pass. The Alpini on the Coston 
dei Laghi, between the Borcola and Monte 
Maggio, repulsed a determined infantry attack, 
but their position was quite untenable, and 
they were withdrawn. 

On May 20, after the break in the centre, 
< leneral Cadorna, who had assumed supreme 
control of the operations, decided to withdraw 
his whole centre line. His plan involved a 
considerable sacrifice of territory, but he had 
little alternative. A counter-attack upon the 
Campomolon-Spitz Tonezza positions, delivered 
by reserves who had been hurried to the spot, 
had failed, and it was essential to find favourable 
positions for further resistance. It has been 
explained that the plateau falls right away 
from the Campomolon line until it drops into 


With his son, Prince Amadio, at the front. 




the Posina and Astico valleys. It was to the 
south of the Posina and east of the Astico that 
General Cadorna traced his new line. But this 
retreat implied a corresponding withdrawal 
in the Sette Comuni, and the line chosen ran 
from Cima Portule, east cf the Val d'Assa, and 
east and south of Asiago. 

On May 21 the withdrawal began, and it was 
conducted without much interference from 
the enemy, who had suffered very heavily, 
and were engaged in consolidating the positions 
they had won. By May 24 the Italians were, 
for the most part, south of the Posina and east 
■ if the Astico and the Assa, leaving only skeleton 
rearguards to contain the enemy's advance as 
long as possible. But the situation was still 
far from satisfactory. There was no time 
to dig in deeply on the new positions ; the 
Austrians had a great preponderance in artillery, 
and it wa< clear that in a few days at most 
the second phase of the attack would begin, 
with the Austrians coming downhill. Moreover, 
everything hung upon the wings holding firm, 
and the Austrians were attacking Pasubio and 
the Coni Zugna ridge with very large forces 
and many guns. Pasubio was now a salient, 
for the Austrians had pushed up the. Vallarsa 

towards the old frontier between Pasubio and 
Monte di Mezzo. They were hurling infantry 
attacks tip the eastern slopes of the Coni 
Zugna-Cima Mezzana ridge, and it was clear 
that even more determined efforts were still 
to come both here and at Pasubio, which was 
under a very heavy bombardment. The troops 
that had withdrawn to the south of the Posina 
depended absolutely upon Pasubio standing 
fast, and if any serious progress were to be 
made by the enemy in the Vallarsa, Pasubio 
was gone. 

The position was critical, and General 
Cadorna had to contemplate the possibility of 
the Auitrians reaching the Venetian plain. On 
the morning of May 2 1 he gave the order to draw 
up plans for the formation of a new Army, to be 
concentrated in the Vicenza district, and by 
midday on May 22 the plans were finished and 
approved and the necessary orders given. The 
formation of this new Army will be described 
later on ; for the moment it is enough to say 
that it was in place, and ready, by June 2. 

But meanwhile things were going badly on the 
Italian right, or rather on the right of the centre, 
in the highlands of the Sette Comuni. On the 
extreme right, in the Val Sugana and among 




the hills to the north, the Italians had retired 
slowly and methodically to the positions chosen 
on the hills east of the little river Maso, which 
falls into the Brent a near Strigno. They had 
dealt the enemy some shrewd blows as they 
retired. But by May 24 the Austrians were 
pressing hard vipon the Italian positions to the 
east of the Yal d'Assa. On the following day 
they succeeded in advancing to the north of the 
valley, breaking the Portule line and occupying 
the height of Corno di Campo Verde (6,815 ft.). 
Owing to a misunderstanding the Alpini evacu- 
ated the practically impregnable positions of 
Cima Undici (7,140 ft.) and Cima Dodici 
(7,610 ft.) before the Austrians attacked ; but 
the mistake was of little consequence, for on 
May 26 the Austrians, attacking to the east of 
the Val d'Assa, succeeded in driving the Italians 
back from the whole range running down from 
Corno di Campo Verde to Monte Meatta, 
between the Val d'Assa and the Valle di Gal- 
marara. Owing to this success of the enemy 
Cima Undici and Cima Dodici would have had 
to be abandoned in any case. The fighting on 
May 26 was very stiff, and both sides lost heavily, 
but the Italians were still completely outgunned. 
They retired across the Galmarara, leaving 
behind them a number of prisoners who were cut 
off from retreat, and it was clear already that 
they would have to go farther still. On May 27 
the enemy crossed the lower waters of the Gal- 
marara torrent and occupied part of Monte 
Mosciagh (or Moschicce). A very fierce struggle 
took place on this mountain on May 27 and 28. 
The Italians fought very stubbornly, and before 
they finally withdrew farther east a brilliant 
counter-attack by the 141st Regiment (Catan- 
zaro brigade) succeeded in bringing away two 
batteries which had been isolated. 

But the word was still : " Go back." General 
Cadorna required time for the assembling of his 
new army, and General Pecori-Uiraldi had to 
gain it for his chief. He had to hold the Aus- 
trians for a fixed time, but he had always to be 
able to extricate his troops. He had to keep 
his lines intact in order to permit the formation 
of the new lines behind him. When too hard 
pressed he had to fall back as long as there were 
positions left for him to fall back upon ; the 
time had not yet come for his men to die where 
they stood on the uplands of the Sette Comuni. 

On the left, and on the left of the centre, that 
time had already come. On May 24, after a 
very heavy bombardment, the Austrians 
attacked all along the line from Coni Zugna to 

Pasubio. They came forward in masses, in the 
early morning, against both sides of Coni Zugna, 
against the Pass that divides Coni Zugna from 
Cima di Mezzana — the Passo di Buole — and 
against Pasubio ; but they were everywhere 
repulsed with heavy loss. Before midday they 
renewed the attack against Passo di Buole, but 
were again flung back, and the Italians, counter- 
attacking, occupied the position of Parmesan, 
south-east of the Pass, on the northern slope of 
Cima di Mezzana. The artillery thundered all 
day, and on the following morning the enemy 
camo again to the assault, in compact masses. 
A brigade which was sent against the Passo di 
Buole was literally exterminated. None went 
back. For six days the fighting continued, 
practically without ceasing. The enemy showed 
the utmost bravery, but nothing could shake 
the resistance of the 37th Division (Sicilia and 
Taro brigades — 61st, 62nd, 207th, 208th regi- 
ments) who occupied the Zugna ridge. It was 
old-fashioned fighting, except for the guns, for 
the trenches were makeshift affairs, where they 
existed at all, and when the enemy approached 
the Italians leapt at them with the bayonet. 
On May 30 the Austrians made their last attack 
in mass on the Passo di Buole. Again and 
again they came up the slopes, but the 62nd and 
207th regiments, who held the Pass, never moved 
a yard, except when they dashed forward to 
finish their work with the bayonet. On this day 
alone it is calculated that 7,000 Austrians were 
killed, and during the six days' fighting they lost 
some 40 per cent, of their infantry effectives in 
this sector. After their failure on June 30 their 
efforts slackened and their methods changed. 
They came forward in lines instead of in masses, 
and it almost seemed as though their attacks 
were rather directed to keeping the Italians 
occupied than inspired by any real hope of 
success. Stubborn fighting still went on, but 
the fury and intensity of the enemy's onslaxight 
were dulled. 

The resistance at the Passo di Buole was more 
than a splendid feat of arms. It saved Pasubio, 
and on the fate of Pasubio depended the fate of 
the Italian line south of the Posina. All the 
weight they could bring to bear was flung by the 
Austrians against this bulwark. For weeks the 
heavy guns thundered against the Italian posi- 
tions, and wave after wave of massed infantry 
was dashed to pieces against those granite lines. 
The Austrians advanced from Col Santo along the 
great ridge ; they came up from the Val Terrag- 
nolo by the Borcola Pass, from Anghebeni and 

Alpioi scaling the rugged mountain sides on the Austrian front. 




Captured by the Italians. 


Ohiesa in the Vallarsa. For three weeks they 
outnumbered the Italians by four to one in this 
sector, and their artillery superiority was 
immense, as all a,long the front. But neither 
massed men nor massed guns, nor both together, 
could break a way througn. The conditions 
were terrible for both sides, for in May and June 
snow still lay deep on the high ridges. Italians 
and Austrians struggled in the snow, but the 
Italians had also to sleep in the snow, and there 
were often 200 cases of frostbite in a day. The 
defenders knew the immense importance of their 
task. They knew that if the Pasubio angle were 
smashed in the Austrians would almost inevit- 
ably roll up the Italian line south of the Posina, 
and find two good open roads to the plain by 
way of Valli di Signori, while the Lower Astico 
would also be freed for the enemy's advance. 
They knew what depended upon their standing 
fast, and they stood — stood like the everlasting 
hills upon which so many earned a glorious 
grave. When the details of the fighting in the 
Trentino are forgotten by all save those who 
make a study of military history, Italians will 
remember, and Italy's Allies should remember, 
how the troops on Zugna and Pasubio blocked 
the advance of the Austrian right and so held 
up the tide of invasion. 

It lias already been said that on May 2-t 
the Italians had practicallj' completed their 
withdrawal from the region between the 

Posina and the Astico and were concentrating 
south and east, respectively, of these two 
streams. On the same day the Austrian 
artillery opened fire from the positions on the 
Monte Maggio-Campomolon line, from which 
the Italians had been driven five days before, 
and the infantry were already pouring down 
the slopes of the tilted plateau. On May 25 
the enemy entered the hamlet of Bettale on 
the Upper Posina, and occupied the south- 
eastern limb of the Tonezza plateau, that 
rises sheer-sided, like an immense battleship, 
between the Rio Freddo and the Astico, and 
ends in the peak of Monte Cimone (4,031 ft.), 
completely dominating the Arsiero basin. 
The next day they were down in the Astico 
valley and close upon Arsiero. On May 28 
the Austrians crossed the Posina in force, and 
on the following day battle was joined all along 
the slopes to the south of the stream. Par- 
ticularly heavy fighting took place beneath 
Sogli di Campiglia and Pria Fora (5,415 ft.), 
and the Italians fell back on the mountain line, 
which they had orders to hold at all costs. 
This line ran from Forni Alti (the extreme 
eastern section of the Pasubio massif) by the 
Colle di Xomo (3,438 ft.), Monte Spin (4,630 ft.), 
and Malga Vaccarezze (4,730 ft.) to Pria Fora ; 
it was practically the last line of defence in 


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Firing a big Italian gun. 



the mountains. Behind Malga Xomo and 
Monte Spin lay the Val Leogra. Behind Malga 
Vaccarezze and Pria Fora the line Monte 
Cogolo (5,390 ft.), Monte Novegna (5,046 ft.), 
and Monte Brazome (4,028 ft.) formed the 
very last bulwark. Beneath lay Sehio and 
the Venetian plain. 

The Italians withdrew from the valley on 
the evening of May 29, and the troops that 
were ordered to occupy Pria Fora lost their 
way in the dark. Instead of reaching the main 
height they struck too far to the south and 
halted on Monte Ciove, the ridge that runs 
towards Novegna and Brazome. When dawn 
came Pria Fora frowned on them from the 
north, and the Austrians were in possession. 
Pria Fora is only about 200 ft. higher than the 
southern ridge, but the drop is almost pre- 
cipitous, except for a narrow approach, and the 
enemy 'was already in force, having come up 
the easy northern slopes. A desperate attack 
failed to win the main height and the Italians 
were thrown back on Monte Ciove. 

The position looked bad. Monte Ciove 
lay bare to the Austrian fire from Pria Fora as 
well as to the heavy artillery across the Posina, 
and it seemed almost untenable. But rein- 
forcements were sent up and the order was 
given by the general commanding the sector 

With machine gun, in the Trentino. 

In a Mountain Pass. 

that there must be no going back. June 1 
seemed a happy date for the Austrians. Pria 
Fora not only commanded the Italian positions 
to the south ; it looked down upon the Lower 
Astico from the west, and Monte Cengio on the 
other side of the valley was already threatened 
by the troops coming down the Upper Astico. 
Punta Corbin had been evacuated by the 
Italians two days before, and the enemy were 
spreading over the south-western corner of 
the Asiago plateau, north-east of Arsiero. 
On June 1 the Austrian Command issued an 
Army Order to the troops in the Posina sector, 
saymg that only one mountain remained 
between them and the plain. 

The Italian line ran across the Lower Astico, 
just below Arsiero from Monte Brazome by 
Quaro, Velo dAstico, Seghe, and Schiri to the 
slopes of Monte Cengio, and here, too, the fight 
was soon raging, only four miles from where 
the valley gives on to the Vincentine plain. 
On June 1 a furious storm of shells was hurled 
against the whole Italian line from Colle di 
Xomo to Rocchette, at the entrance to the 
plain, and determined infantry attacks were 
delivered against Monte Spin and the Seghe - 
Schiri line. They were thrown back with 
heavy loss. The Italian artillery, particularly 



the field artillery, had been strongly reinforced, 
and shrapnel fire wrought havoc among the 
dense columns of the enemy. But Cengio was 
being hard pressed from the north, where the 
Austrians occupied Monte Barco. 

In the Sette Comuni the Italians were still 
falling back. Asiago had been evacuated on 
May 28. and the retirement across the Gal- 
marara was followed by a further retreat across 
the parallel valleys of Xos and Campomulo, 
the Austrians occupying Monte Baldo (5,450 ft.) 
and Monte Fiara (5,815 ft.) on May 30, though 
the Alpini still retained a footing on the latter 
mountain. Farther north, on June 1, the enemy 
advanced eastwards from Monte Mandrielle 
(5,100 ft.) on to Austrian territory. The move 
sounds peculiar, but it is explained by the 
fact that here they entered one of the strategical 
wedges secured by the frontier of 1866 — a 
wedge thrust forward down the Brenta. The 
enemy were now less than four miles from the 
Val Sugana. at a point well behind the Italian 
main line of defence in that valley. But com- 
munications were bad in this region, and they 
were to make little more progress here. Nor 
was the Graz Army Corps, which had pushed 
back the Italians across the Val Campomulo, 
to gain many further laurels. 

More to the south, however, the position 
still seemed critical for the Italians. Des- 
perate fighting was going on below Asiago. 
A brigade of Sardinian Grenadiers was clinging 
to Monte Cengio, attacked from north and 
west, and on the plateau to the north-east, a 
little west of the steam-tramway iine that 
runs to Asiago from the plain, the hill of Bel- 
monte was taken and retaken several times. 
It seemed as though the Italians must be 
driven eastward across the Val Canaglia, as, 
indeed, they were on Juno 3, but on that very- 
day General Cadorna announced that the 
Austrian offensive had been stopped all along 
the line. His new Army was ready, and he 
had taken the measure of the enemy. A 
fortnight's heavy fighting had shown him that 
his troops and their leaders could do what he 
asked them, and he expressed his confidence 
in them by the communique which he issued to 
the world. There were many days' bitter 
defensive fighting in front of the Italians. 
They were still to fall back a little way in the 
Sette Comuni, but no position of first-class 
importance was to be lost. Where they with- 
drew there was ample room for retreat, and it 
was now General Cadorna's game to draw 

and hold the enemy well inside the salient 
that their great drive had made. 

The southern ha'f of the final line, from 
which there was to be no withdrawal, has 
already been indicated. It ran from Zugna to 
Pasubio, thence eastwards to the Val d'Astico, 
crossing the valley near Velo d'Astico ; thence 
bending backwards to east of the Val Cana- 
glia. Here it ascended the rim of the Asiago 
plateau and ran by Monte Pan (4,515 ft.) and 
Magnaboschi (4,420 ft.), south of the Asiago 
basin, to the Val Frenzela ; thence north-east- 
wards to Monte Lisser (5,310 ft.). From here 
the line turned north-westward, along the 
edge of the high, bleak tableland that drops 
to the Val Sugana, to beneath the line that the 
enemy had established along the frontier peaks. 
In tracing this line General Cadorna had issued 
the following Army Order : " Remember that 
here we defend the soil of our country and the 
honour of the Army. These positions are to 
be defended to the death." His troops did 
not fail him. and while they stood and died he 
prepared his counter-stroke. 

The Fifth Army was assembled on the plain, 
complete in all its details, by J\me 2, exactly 
ten days after the order for its formation was 
given. Great reserves had been concentrated 
in the war zone ; between the Tagliamento 
and the Isonzo in readiness for the offensive 
that was being prepared against Gorizia and 
the Carso ; east of the Tagliamento, on central 
positions that allowed a quick move to any part 
of the front ; and in the permanent depots of 
the north. By the night of May 22 the whole 
of the Venetian plain was amove with troops 
and their transport — the immense transport 
required by modern war. In 10 days more 
than half a million men, with guns, ammunition, 
and provisions, with countless motor camions 
and endless trains of mule-transport, were 
ready in the plain to meet the enemy. It was 
a magnificent feat of organization and energy. 

But by June 2 General Cadorna knew that 
the enemy would never reach the plain, if, 
indeed, that was their real objective. In 
addition to forming the Fifth Army he had 
been able to draw on other reserves to reinforce 
the lengthening line in the uplands, and fill the 
gaps. For days the wonderful motor transport 
of the Italians was moving men and machine- 
guns and ammunition up to the mountains, 
while behind them, more slowly, came artil- 
lery, and more artillery. The most amazing 



Fact, or at least the most spectacular, was the 
transference of an entire division by motor, in 
a single night, from the Carnic Alps to the 
Pasubio district. These reinforcements were 
enough to hold the enemy, and the duty of the 
Fifth Army became offensive, not defensive. 

On June 2 the Fifth Army was ready in the 
plain, but to prepare the forward move took 
10 days more. The difficulties of transport 
were enormous. The Asiago plateau in par- 
ticular is very scantily supplied with water. 
The troops already there had suffered much 
from thirst, and it was essential to assure an 
adequate water supply for the greatly-mcreast < 
forces which were soon to be thrown against 
the Austrian*. And new roads had to be made 
for transport, or old tracks widened, for the 
existing roads would not serve General Cadoma's 
purpose. This purpose was to take the enemy 
on both flanks — to come up to the Asiago 
plateau on the right, and drive at Col Santo 
on the left. The plan required minute and 
careful preparation, and during the interval 
between plan and action the Austrians ham- 
mered unceasingly at the Pasubio, Posina, 
Astico and Asiago lines. 

For fifteen days the fighting in the Posina 
sector was heavy and continuous. Every 
morning the Austrian guns opened fire at 6.30 
precisely, and the bombardment never ceased 
as long as daylight lasted. On June 2, 3 and 
4, the enemy delivered massed infantry attacks 

Top picture: An officer studying the surrounding country. 




■on various parts of the front, from Colle di 
Xomo to Sohiri in the Astico valley, but they 
were unsuccessful everywhere. On the night 
of June 4-5, while a violent storm was raging, 
a furious attack was thrown against Monte 
Ciove and Monte Brazome, supported by a 
hail of shells. The Italians never moved, 
though they were very highly tried, and a 
similar attack on the night of June 5 had a 
similar result. The next three days were 
quieter, and on June 9 the Italians were able 
to push forward a little and improve their 
positions in the Monte Novegna sector of the 
line. June 10 and 11 were comparatively 
qviiet days, but a terri6c bombardment began 
on June 12, and the Austrians attacked all 
along the line. Their efforts were especially 
directed against Monte Ciove, and at one time it 
seemed as though the position could not be 
held. It was swept and torn by shell, the 
enemy were advancing in mass, and the 
brigadier in command sent back word that the 
pressure was likely to be too strong. The 
reply of the general commanding the sector was 
stern and peremptory, and it had the necessary 
effect. But they were anxious hours. All 
telephonic communications had been destroyed 
by the storm of shells. Nearly all the divisional 
staff were killed or wounded by an unlucky 
direct hit. Orders had to be given entirely 
by megaphone or bugle. Battalions and 
regiments had all but passed out of the general's 
direction, and he could only trust to officers 
and men fulfilling his orders to stand fast. His 
orders were obeyed, and at nightfall the Aus- 
trians retreated. 

Next morning, under cover of the usual bom- 
bardment all along the line, the Austrians 
made one more attempt upon Monte Ciove. 
About 11 o'clock, after a furious preliminary 
shelling, they lifted their fire to the rear of the 
Italian positions and launched a powerful 
infantry attack. Nearly all the Italian officers 
were put out of action, and it was almost im- 
possible to get supporting troops through the 
curtain fire. The general could not see how 
the defence was going, so a colonel of the staff 
climbed to a point of vantage and called through 
a megaphone to his waiting chief. His voice 
came through a lull in the storm of fire : " They 
are holding marvellously." They did not 
cease to hold, and at 3 o'clock the Austrians 
fell back. That evening the Cag'.iari brigade 
(63rd and 64th regiments), which had held 
Monte Ciove so gallantly was relieved by rein- 

forcements which had arrived the previous 
night. The brigade came out of action with 
only 30 per cent, of its original strength. It 
had lost 4,000 men on Monte Ciove. 

Further attacks were made on Monte Brazome 
early in the morning of June 14, and again on 
the evening of the same day. They were easily 
repulsed, and it was now clear that the Austrian 
bolt was shot. Even the daily bombardment 
was soon to slacken, and on the evening of 
June 23 the 12-inch shell in the direction of 
divisional headquarters, which had always 
closed the day's work, came over for the last 

Meanwhile a desperate struggle had been 
going on in the Sette Comuni, particularly on 
that part of the plateau which lies to the south 
of the Asiago basin. On the night of June 3 
the Austrians, attacking in greatly superior 
force, drove the Sardinian Grenadiers off Monte 
Angio, but not until the brigade had lost far 
more than half its effectives. They retreated 
across the Val Canaglia, but the Italians still 
held the south-western slopes of Cengio, above 
Schiri, and on the following day they gained 
some ground in this direction. An attempt to 
retake the mountain failed, however, and the 
Austrian pressure grew very heavy, both here 
and to the north. There were two danger- 
points : the uplands between the lower Astico 
and the Asiago basin, and the head of the Val 
Frenzela, where the Austrians were little more 
than three miles from Valstagua, low down in 
tho Brenta valley. 

From June 4 to June 8 a long and stubborn 
battle took place on the line running east of 
the Valle di Campomulo to the head of the Val 
Frenzela. The Austrian losses were enormous, 
and they were driven back repeatedly, but on 
the evening of June 8 the Italians retired a 
short distance to the eastward, leaving the 
summit of Castelgonberto (5,928 feet) in the 
hands of the enemy. At this point the Aus- 
trians now came under direct fire from Monte 
Lisser, and the limit of their advance was reached. 
Masses of artillery were now being placed in the 
Monte Lisser sector, reinforcements were 
arriving daily, and the preparations for the 
Italian counter-offensive were well under way. 
Persistent artillery duels followed, but the 
enemy made no further infantry attacks. 

South of Asiago the Austrian effort was more 
prolonged and more violent. On the evening 
of June 6 a furious attack was delivered on 
the Italian positions. The battle raged all 



Carrying anti-aircraft guns. 

night, and the enemy were driven back, but on 
the following afternoon they came again, only 
to be repulsed once more. They had, however, 
gamed a footing on Monte Lemerle, and two 
days later the Italians were driven off their 
positions on the summit of the mountain. But 
the Forli brigade (43rd and 44th regiments), 
which remained on the south-eastern slopes of 
Lemerle, jdelded no more ground. They were 
attacked by greatly superior forces on June 10, 
but they did not move until the moment came 
for a bayonet charge, when they counter- 
attacked and scattered the Austrians, pursuing 
them for some distance before returning to 
their positions. From June f) to June 15 they 
were subjected to repeated attacks and un- 
ceasing artillery fire, but, magnificently sup- 
ported by the new field guns which had now 
been put in position, they defeated every at- 
tempt to overcome their resistance. On June 
15 they were reinforced by the 149th regiment, 
and at 5.30 p.m. their brigadier sent them for- 
ward in an irresistible rush which captured the 
summit of Lemerle. A counter-attack came 

at once, but was repulsed. Next day the 
enemy attacked again and again. Late in the 
evening they swarmed down over the summit 
upon the Italian positions, which had been 
withdrawn 100 yards for the sake of cover. 
The defenders feinted a retreat, but returned 
at the moment when the Austrians were trium- 
phantly establishing themselves on the aban- 
doned line. Nono of the enemy escaped. On 
June 17 the attacks continued, being directed 
especially on the line between Lemerle and Mag- 
naboschi. The Forli brigade lost many officers 
and fell back, but they were reinforced by the 
33rd regiment, and their positions were re- 
gained. A further desperate onslaught was 
made on June 18, but it ended in failure. The 
Austrian situation had become critical. The 
enemy had realized the development of the 
Italian counter-offensive, and they staked 
everything in an attempt to drive a wedge 
between the Lemerle-Magnaboschi line and the 
positions east of the Val Canaglia. On a narrow 
front, well under two miles, they sent in an 
attacking force of over 20 battalions (the 43rd 
division, the 24th and 41st infantry, tho 20th 
and 22nd Landwehr). On June 15 the Austrian 
command had issued an army order to the 
troops saying that Lemerle would fall in two 
days, and that afterwards only three mountains 
lay between them and Milan. But in the four 
days' fighting they did not gain another yard, 
and the attack on June 18 was their last effort 
These four days tried the Italians very highly. 
No further reinforcements were available for 
the moment, and the Forli brigade suffered 
terrible losses. Only their indomitable courage 
and the splendid work of the field artillery 
saved the position. 

Farther west, on the Val Canaglia line, the 
struggle was no less grim, and here the Liguria 
brigade won for itself a glorious name. This 
brigade, one of the new formations created 
during the year of preparation, was territorially 
recruited and consisted almost entirely of 
Genoese. They' were stationed at an angle 
where the Italian line bent north-eastward frcm 
the Val Canaglia to Magnaboschi and Lemerle. 
The summit of Monte Pau lay behind them to 
the south, and to the west and north the 
Austrian positions faced them in a curved line, 
running from the eastern slope of Monte Angio, 
by Monte Barco, Panoccio and Belmonte to 
Cesuna, with the height of Busibollo thrust 
forward as a bastion on the near side of the 
road, and the steam-tramway line running up 



the Val Canalgia. The point they held. 
Zovetta, is not marked save on the largest-scale 
staff maps, but it is a shoulder of the Monte 
Pau-Magnaboschi range. 

When the Liguria brigade took up its position 
bad news was coming in both from north and 
south. The Grenadiers had been driven off 
Cengio ; the Austrians soon gained a footing on 
Lemerle, and farther to the north Castelgom- 
berto was evacuated. The Genoese of the 
Liguria brigade were first attacked in force on 
the evening of June 6, simultaneously with the 
attack on Lemerle. They were heavily engaged 
in the battle of June 10, when they sviffered 
severely from artillery fire. The Austrians had 
nearly 200 guns on the curved line described 
above, and the greater part of their fire was 
directed against the Monte Pau positions. The 
Italians had not yet placed all their fresh artil- 
lery, and the main support of the Genoese was 
two batteries of mountain guns on Monte Pau. 
Their heaviest trial, like that of their com- 
rades of the Forli brigade, was to begin on 
June 15. On that day and the two following 
the Austrian infantry attacked in force. They 
were able to concentrate in dead ground, pro- 
tected from artillery fire, in the valley beneath 

Zovetta, and their attacks were persistent. By 
this time the Genoese had fallen back some 
150 yards from the edge of the hill, to a road 
that crossed the shoulder from the north, and 
here they waited and mowed down the enemy 
as they came over the brow of the slope. The 
defenders suffered very severely. After one 
onslaught had been repulsed no news came to 
brigade headquarters from an outlying company 
on the right. When a supporting party was 
sent out the message came back that the entire 
company was dead or disabled. On the evening 
of June 17 the remnants of the Liguria brigade* 
were replaced by fresh troops, but no further 
attack was to come from the enemy. 

The next few days saw an intense artillery 
bombardment from both sides, and all along 
the line from the Adige to the Brcnta the 
Italians were beginning to test the ground for 
an advance. The Austrian offensive was over. 
Three out of the four reserve divisions concen- 
trated at Trento had either been brought already 

* The various units mentioned by name in this brief 
account are far from exhausting the list of those who 
greatly distinguished themselves. They have been 
selected by the writer because the fighting in which they 
earned renown was specially important in the story of 
the Trentino operations. 

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into the front line or sent in haste to Galicia ; 
the fourth division was formed of second-line 
troops, of doubtful value, and there was no 
more reinforcement possible. The smashing 
blows dealt by the Russians on the eastern front 
showed that the Trentino attack had been based 
on a very grave miscalculation, and instead of 
being able to bring more troops against Italy the 
Austrian command had now to study the pro- 
blem of removing a part of those which were 
already engaged. 

On June 16 the Italian right wing had made 
useful progress. The Alpini astonished the 
enemy by climbing the steep cliffs of Castelloni 
di San Marco (6,033 ft.), on the frontier above 
the Val Sugana, and by this move they prepared 
tli3 way for the occupation of Monte Magari 
and Malga Fossetta, positions which were very 
strongly held by two infantry regiments (70th 
and 76th) and eight battalions of Bosnian 
Feldjdger. On the following day the Alpini 
pushed westward and captured the Cima dTsi- 
doro (6,270 ft.). The whole right wing was now 
moving forward, and the left wing was also 
under way, in the Vallarsa and at the head of 
the Posina valley. Guns and men were massed 
on the Italian centre. The time had nearly 
come for the Austrians to go. 

For a week the Austrians opposed a firm re- 
sistance to the Italian pressure, but on June 25 
the retreat of the invaders began. Their posi- 
tion was becoming untenable. The Alpini 
were recapturing the high peaks on the right, and 
on the left Col Santo was being seriously threa- 
tened. Attacking on June 25 the Italians 
rapidly occupied the Austrian positions imme- 
diately confronting them. They met only a 
rearguard resistance, the main body of the in- 
vaders being in full retreat. Within three days 
the Italians were attacking the mountains east 
of the upper waters of the Galmarara, and they 
had already occupied Monte Interrotto' and 
Monte Mosciagh, to the north of Asiago. Far- 
ther south they were on the line of the Assa, as 
far as its junction with the Astico, and to the 
west they had crossed the Posina and were 
attacking Monte Majo. In the Vallarsa and 
Pasubio sector they were making progress 
against Col Santo. They were picking up a 
good many prisoners and machine-guns, and 
finding a good many unburied dead, but the 
Austrian retreat had been planned and was 
being conducted with great skill. Above all, 
the guns were being got away. General 
Cadorna's counter-offensive was to have only 

partial results, for the enemy realized it in time. 
On the other hand, it never fully developed ; 
the retreat of the enemy from the salient they 
had made changed the circumstances, and 
consequently the plan. 

The line that the Austrians intended to hold 
was clearly indicated, for as they approached it 
their resistance stiffened. It ran from Rovereto 
by Col Santo to Monte Maggio via the Borcola 
Pass ; thence along the rim of the Arsiero 
plateau, north of the Posina and east of the 
Upper Astico ; thence across the Upper Astico 
north of the Assa to where the valley turns nort h - 
ward, and thence, crossing the river, by Monte 
Meatta and the Portule line to the frontier. This 
was an immensely strong defensive line, backed 
as it was by the heavy guns of the Folgaria and 
Lavarone plateaux, and everywhere looking 
down on the Italian positions. General Ca- 
dorna had no intention of letting things be in the 
Trentino. It was his business to keep as many 
Austrians as possible pinned on the line, and he 
worried the enemy by continual strong pushes 
on various parts of the Trentino front. But he 
had equally no intention of knocking his head 
against the stone wall of the enemy's lines, and 
wasting men who might be better employed 
elsewhere. At three points only he hastened to 
press the attack home — east of tlie Galmarara, 
Monte Cimone (immediately north of Arsiero) 
and in the Pasubio sector. In each case the 
attacking troops were successful. The east side 
of the Galmarara valley was solidly occupied, 
Monte Zebio being brilliantly carried by the 
Sassari Brigade (151st and 152nd regiments) 
and the Bersaglieri. the Italian lines on the 
Pasubio massif were pushed forward so as to 
give more breathing-space at this all -important 
position, and Monte Cimone was taken. The 
capture of this peak deserves a special word . Its 
position and formation have already been de- 
scribed, and it will be clear that it was an ideal 
spot to defend. Several times the Italians 
endeavoured to climb its steep sides, both from 
the Rio Freddo and the Astico valley, but 
machine-gun fire mowed them down, and it 
seemed impossible to reach the plateau. • As 
the steep sides were apparently impracticable, 
it was resolved to give the Alpini another chance 
of showing their special qualities. They were 
sent against the southern end of Cimone, a wall 
of rock rising 350 feet above Monte Caviojo, a 
spur already occupied by the Italians. Before 
dawn on July 23 they scaled the rock face by the 
aid of ropes and after a long and bloody struggle 



Under a roof to hide the 

bombed the Austrians off the summit. The 
bombs had. to be passed up from below by a 
chain of men, roped on the cliff. By the 
evening they had extended their occupation suf- 
ficiently to cover the advance of the infantry 
from the Rio Freddo and the Val d'Astico, who 
came up the steep paths and established them- 
selves solidly on the plateau north of the sum- 
mit. This victory took from the Austrians a 
very tiseful observatory, and gave the Italians a 
firm footing on the Tonezza plateau. Farther 
west they were firmly entrenched on the hills 
north of the Posina. They had occupied 
Monte Majo and were, threatening Como 
del Coston and the Borcola Pass. And 
near the border of the Trentino and Tirol 
a new movement had been started from 
the Val Cistron and the Val Pellegrino, 
which threatened the Val d'Avisio and the 
great highway that runs down by Cavalise 
to the Adige 

The Italians were carrying out their task 
very successfully, and despite all their efforts 
the Austrians had not been able to detach 
more than three divisions, or possibly four, to 
the help of their routed armies in Galicia. 
The Trentino adventure had come to a disas- 

gun from enemy airmen. 

trous end. The invaders had inflicted heavy 
losses on the Italians, both in men and guns, 
and had made a rapid and brilliant advance 
on to Italian soil. But they had not the neces- 
sary staying-power, and their effort died out. 
They lost at least 150,000 in two months' 
fighting, and though they were better placed 
strategically than before their offensive, the 
price they had paid was far too high for what 
they gained. It might perhaps have been 
worth paying if it could have paralysed the 
Italian preparations for a big movement on 
the Isonzo, and many critics consider that this 
was the real purpose. But while the echoes 
of the heavy guns in the Trentino were still 
resounding, General Cadorna smashed through 
the iron fortresses of Sabotino, Podgora and 
San Michele, occupied the entire western seg- 
ment of the Carso, and drove the Austrians 
headlong from Gorizia. 

The Italian Army won immortal honour by 
its resistance in the Trentino, and, like his 
troops, their leader gained laurels that will not 
fade. Yet a greater title to renown will be 
that he could dare to hold back the invaders 
with his left arm and keep his right ready for 
a blow elsewhere 



When the Austrian offensive in the Trentino 
began the Italian Parliament was not sitting. 
It was not until June ti that the Chamber of 
Deputies reopened, and by that time the 
advancing tide of invasion had been stemmed. 
Three days before, General Cadorna's com- 
munique had stated that the Austrian forward 
movement had been definitely arrested along 
the whole front. The Government, therefore, 
was assured of a more favourable reception 
than it would have had a fortnight earner, 
when the issue of the fighting still seemed un- 
certain, and many people feared that the 
enemy might win their way to the Venetian 
plain. But it was generally felt that the 
Cabinet could hardly hope to escape a storm, 
for the conviction was widespread that the 
Austrian successes in the Trentino were due, 
in part at least, to lack of foresight and pre- 
paration on the Italian side. 

The temper of the Chamber was critical 
and everything depended on the way in which 
the deputies were handled. In point of fact, 
the Salandra Government, and particularly the 
Premier himself, had for a considerable time 
been losing in popularity. So far back as the 
autumn of 1915 it had been said, with some 

justice, that Signor Salandra not only took no 
trouble to keep in touch with the leaders of 
opinion in Parliament and in the country, but 
seemed actually averse from contact with any- 
one outside his own immediate political circle. 
This attitude of extreme reserve was under- 
stood and appreciated during the difficult 
period of Italian neutrality, and at the moment 
of Italy's entry into the war. Signor Salan- 
dra's position in the country was very strong. 
Perhaps he reached the highest point of his 
popularity after his speech at the Capitol on 
Juno 2, 1915, when he answered the attack 
made upon Italy in the Reichstag by the 
German Chancellor. At that moment Signor 
Salandra held a place in the political life of 
his country that no Italian statesman had 
occupied since Cavour. It lay with him 
whether he could keep that place. His task 
was not easy. Italian public opinion is difficult 
to hold, difficult to manage, and it cannot be 
ignored. And in Parliament his position 
was not satisfactory. His Government was 
formed upon a narrow and not too stable 
foundation. The party to which he belonged, 
the Liberals of the Right, counted compara- 
tively few votes in the Chamber, and the great 

2,000 metres high. 



majority of the deputies wero political oppo- 
nents. The Giolittians had voted for Italy's 
intervention because intervention had been 
clearly demanded by the country. The " In- 
terventionists of the Left " — Radicals, Repub- 
licans and Reformist Socialists — who had 
worked unceasingly for war, were antagonistic 
to Signor Salandra and his party on every 
question save that of the part that Italy should 
play in the European struggle. 

The situation, therefore, required specially 
skilful handling. To assure the position of his 
Government it was necessary that Signor 
Salandra should keep in close touch with 
feeling in the country, and that he should take 
steps to assure the support of those who were 
not his natural political allies in Parliament. 
The first task was one which is the duty of every 
politician who aspires to power in a democratic 
country ; the way was cleared for the second 
by the special circumstances of the time. 
The, name of Salandra stood for Italy's entry 
into the European war, and the adherents of 
the war policy were ready to forget all domestic 
differences and lend their loyal support to the 
man who had led Italy in the great choice. 
The sympathy of the Interventionist Left was 
increased by the appointment of Signor Bar- 
zilai as Minister without portfolio. All Italy 
approved the inclusion in the Cabinet of the 
recognized leader of the Irredentist movement, 
himself a native of Trieste, as a symbol of the 
national aspirations which should be fulfilled 
by the war ; but to the Left the appointment 
was especially welcome. Signor Barzilai had 
fought many parliamentary battles under the 
Republican flag, and though he had ceased to 
be identified with a party which seemed now 
to have little raison d'etre in Italian politics 
he continued to be one of the leaders of " the 
democracy " in the Chamber. His inclusion 
in the Cabinet stood as a pledge for the com- 
pletion of national unity, but it was also taken 
as a recognition of the part played by the 
Interventionist Left in arousing Italian opinion 
to the necessity of war. 

This strengthened Signor Salandra's parlia- 
mentary position, but, even allowing for the 
assurance of added support to the Government, 
the Giolittians formed a maj ority in the Chamber. 
A number of the party, including their leader, 
were practically vowed to enmity against the 
Government. They had gone altogether too far 
in their endeavours to preserve Italian neu- 
trality, and, incidentally, to regain political 

power for themselves. They might vote for 
the Government, but not out of friendliness, and 
they could as little have dealings with the man 
who had defeated their schemes as he could 
have dealings with them. On the other hand, 
there were many members of Signor Giolitti's 
majority who were in a quite different position. 
They had played no part in the backstairs 
negotiations of May, 1915, and most of them, 
probably, gave a sincere if not enthusiastic 
acquiescence to Signor Salandra's war policy. 
They felt that as Italians their one duty was 
to collaborate in the work of pursuing the war 
with the utmost vigour and bringing it to a 
successful conclusion. Here, too, there was a 
chance for the G o vernment to win solid support, 
without any sacrifice of principle or dignity. 

The tasks that confronted Signor Salandra, 
when Italy's decision was finally taken, required 
abilities of a special kind. Above all they 
required tact and the gift of handling men. 
Unfortunately Signor Salandra was not able to 
display the qualities demanded by the situation. 
With Baron Sonnino at his right hand he had 
guided Italy through a long and fateful crisis. 
He had faced and overcome, with firmness and 
skill, the most exceptional difficulties, and he 
had won a remarkable place in the esteem of 
his countrymen. He was to fail in a task that 
seemed much less intrinsically difficult, but 
called for gifts which he could not bring to it. 
He was to lose a great personal opportunity 
and see the gradual dwindling of the popularity 
which he had most justly earned. 

In Italy as in most democratic countries, but 
perhaps more in Italy than in others, the 
quality of souplesse is practically essential to 
permanent political success. It was for lack 
of this quality that Baron Sonnino had. for so 
long failed to wield the influence in Italian 
political life to which his abilities and character 
had entitled him. He had shown himself 
lacking in the necessary parliamentary gifts. 
He had won power but failed to hold it, and 
until his hour came, the hour so fateful for 
Italy's future, it had seemed that he would 
never have the chance of giving to his country 
what he could give. The chance came under the 
leadership of the man who had been his close 
friend and political ally fol 30 years, and 
had served as his lieutenant in two Govern- 
ments. It was the moment that gave to Baron 
Sonnino the opportunity of proving himself, 
but if he had been Premier himself, he could 
never have carried his programme through. 




Alpini hauling a gun up a mountain. 

And he could hardly have done his work under 
another leader, just as Signor Salandra could 
hardly have led Italy to war if anyone but his 
old chief had been at the Consulta. 

During the period of Italy's neutrality, after 
the death of the Marquis di San Giuliano, the 
Salandra-Sonnino combination had shown itself 
specially suited to the circumstances. Above 

all, both men were trusted. They were known 
to be beyond the suspicion of intrigue, and 
everyone was willing to admit the necessity of 
reserve. With the declaration of war the 
situation changed. It remained to be seen 
whether the Government could adapt itself to 
the new circumstances. 

The duty of adaptation lay with Signor 




Throwing hand-grenades into an enemy trench. 

Salandra. No one expected Baron Sonnino to 
change his spots, to be outspoken with the 
supporters of the Government, old and new, or 
to keep in touch with the Press, which counts 
for so much in Italy. It was hoped that this 
essential part of the Government's duties would 
be performed by Signor Salandra, but after a 
few months it began to be said that he was 
" worse than Sonnino." Before Parliament 
met on December 1, 1915, there was a good deal 
of discontent, which was no doubt accentuated 
by the fact that things seemed to be going 
badly for the Allies. It would not have been 
so hard to be patient and go without informa- 
tion if the progress of the war had been satis- 
factory, but the debacle in the Balkans made a 
profound impression in Italy, and men's minds 
were uneasy. The general uneasiness was 
accentuated by a doubt as to Italy's exact 
position in the Entente. When Italy declared 
war against Austria, the Government and the 
country expected a declaration of hostilities on 
the part of Germany within a few days. Signor 
Salandra's speech at the Capitol was thought to 
make war finally inevitable, but still Germany 
did not move. Before relations were broken 
off with Turkey, on August 21, Naby Bey, the 
Turkish Ambassador in Kome, warned Baron 
Sonnino that war with Turkey meant war with 

Germany, that Germany had pledged herself 
to declare war on Italy if Italy declared war on 
Turkey. Italy's answer to this warning was 
an immediate declaration of hostilities, but the 
pledge to Turkey had no more value than any 
other German promise. 

When Serbia was invaded by Germany, 
Austria and Bulgaria, and Italy declared war 
on Bulgaria, but not on Germany, Italian 
opinion, and the opinion of Italy's allies, were 
further puzzled. The grounds of the declara- 
tion published by the official Stefani Agency on 
October 19, 1915, seemed rather to increase 
the anomalous nature of the situation. The 
official statement ran as follows : 

" Bulgaria having opened hostilities against 
Serbia, and having allied herself with Italy's 
enemies to fight against the Allies, the Italian 
Government, by order of the King, has declared 
a state of war to exist between Italy and 

It was at this period that the talk began to 
go round of a secret agreement between Italy 
and Germany, signed shortly before the rupture 
of diplomatic relations and the declaration of 
war against Austria, wmch preserved a bridge 
between the two countries, and provided that 
they should not come to open aostilities. 
There was no truth whatever in this suggestion, 
though it was freely made by some who ought 
to have known better than to lend their autho- 
rity to the rumour. The facts were available 
to those who chose to apply for them, and the 
story is an interesting comment on the way 
in which an imposing, if shadowy, edifice can 
be built up on a slender foundation, or rather 
on no foundation at all. A special agree- 
ment between Italy and Germany was signed 
before diplomatic relations were broken off, 
but it was not of the nature insinuated. When 
Italy's intervention was certain and imminent, 
the Italian Government proposed both to 
Germany and to Austria-Hungary that in the 
event of war eacn country should (1) respect 
and protect all private property belonging to 
the other's subjects within its own borders 
and (2) should permit the repatriation of the 
other's subjects. The property clause was to 
the advantage of Austria-Hungary and Germany, 
both of whom had large interests in Italy. 
The clause providing for the departure of enemy 
subjects was to protect the very large number 
of Italians, principally of the working classes, 
who were resident in Germany or Austria- 
Hungary. The Germans and Austrians domi- 



ciled in Italy, who, generally speaking, be- 
longed to the well-to-do classes, had for the 
most part left Italy before the rupture of 
diplomatic relations became imminent. 

Austria-Hungary refused the Italian pro- 
posal ; Germany accepted it, and on May 21, 
1915, an agreement to the effect indicated was 
signed by the German Foreign Secretary, Herr 
von Jagow, and the Italian Ambassador in 
Berlin, Signor Bollati. It will be seen that 
the agreement gives no grounds whatever for 
the most unjust and mischievous suggestion 
that Italy was endeavouring to keep a foot in 
the enemy's camp. The agreement was in 
fact little more than an attempt to re -affirm 
principles which had seemed to be well estab- 
lished before Germany began to break most of the 
rules of war to which she had put her signature. 
The two important points about it, in view of 
the gossip to which its existence gave rise, are : 

1. The terms it contained were offered to 
Austria-Hungary, upon whom Italy was about 
to declare war. 

2. It deliberately provided for a state of 
war between Italy and Germany. 

The story of a secret agreement was entirely 
unfounded, and it was at length definitely 
contradicted by Signor Barzilai, in an inter- 

view given in February, 1916, but the fact 
that it was started, and repeated, and half 
believed even by many Italians, shows how 
Italy's position was compromised by the 
absence of a formal declaration of war from or 
against Germany. 

It has already been said that the omission 
to ta,ke the opportunity of the attack upon 
Serbia increased the confusion both of 
Italian and Allied opinion. Some months 
later, when the question was again arousing 
lively discussion in Italy, Signor Bissolati 
stated in the course of a conversation that 
the Government had missed an excellent 
chance of regularizing the position, but comment 
was silenced for a little, in Italy at least, by the 
announcement that Italy had adhered to the 
Pact of London,* which pledged its signatories 
not to conclude a separate peace. This an- 
nouncement was made by Baron Sonnino, in 
the Chamber of Deputies, on December 1, 
1915, the opening day of the short winter 
session, and it was then stated that Italy's 
signature had been affixed to the Pact the day 
before. It is understood, however, that Italy 

* The original declaration was signed in London in 
September, 1914, by Great Britain, France and Russia, 
ana Japan adhered to the agreement a year later. 




had given formal assurances of her adhesion 
some time previously, and Signor Orlando, 
Minister of Justice, had prepared public 
opinion for Baron Sonnino's statement in an 
important speech delivered at Palermo on 
November 20. In the course of that speech 
Signor Orlando had emphasized the impossi- 
bility of an " isolated peace," and had already 
dashed the hopes of those few Italians who 
thought that Italy ought to confine herself to 
what had been called contemptuously " a 
narrow-gauge war." 

It was not long before the Government began 
to come in for fresh criticism. By this time 
it was well understood that Signor Salandra 
was not likely to modify his attitude of reserve. 
And a number of charges were accumulating 
against the Government, most of which, no 
doubt, admitted of an excellent answer, but 
to which no adequate answer was given. 
Italy, like other countries, was slow to realize 
the extent of her munition requirements. It 
began to be known that it was largely owing 
to lack of sufficient artillery preparation and 
support that the Italian attacks on the Isonzo 
had not succeeded in Ijreaking the Austrian 
lines. Critics were quite well prepared to 
excuse a shortage of guns and shells, if they 
felt that every effort had been made to furnish 
an adequate supplj'. It was on this point 
that there was a sense of uncertainty. Those 
who had to provide the shells showed an undue 
complacence regarding the output which per- 
haps they did not feel, but the effect was 
imfortunate. At the front, at least, there 
were no illusions. When a representative of 
the Munitions Department gave the assurance 
that there was an " abundance " of shells, he 
received the true and only answer to his easy 
optimism: "There is never abundance." 
Here was the point. Italy had certainly done 
marvels in the way of military preparation. 
The danger was lest it should be thought 
enough to have done marvels. 

Over the question of munitions the Govern- 
ment began to be accused of lack of forethought, 
and similar accusations began to be made in 
regard to other deficiencies which were making 
themselves felt. The question of the supply 
of coal and grain was becoming acute, owing 
to the shortage of shipping and the ever- 
increasing price of freight. It was asserted 
that the Government had shown a lack of 
foresight in regard to these problems, and of 
energy in dealing with them. Not all the 

criticisms were justified, but some were fair 
enough, and the situation was made worse by 
the isolation of the Government from the 
leaders of public opinion, which forbade dis- 
cussion and explanation. 

The short winter session (the Chamber sat 
from December 1 to December 13, and the 
debates in the Senate lasted only three days, 
from December 15 to December 17) had not 
given much chance to those who desired fuller 
information on the various points that had 
begun to trouble public opinion. The Chamber 
was not to reopen till March 1, so that during a 
period of more than 11 months, except for 
the historic single-day sitting on May 20, 1915, 
the elected representatives of the nation had 
only a fortnight for parliamentary discussion of 
the situation and its problems. This would 
not have mattered — many people w : ere against 
parliamentary discussion altogether — if the 
Ministry had in the interval maintained a 
reasonable contact with its supporters. No such 
contact was maintained, and public opinion 
soon began to be restless again. The Inter- 
ventionists of the Left were particularly dis- 
satisfied. They thought with some justice that 
the part they had played before the war entitled 
them to consideration, and they were specially 
concerned over the question of munitions. 
Moreover, they were still uneasy in regard to 
Germany. The adhesion to the Pact of London 
had satisfied them for the moment, but on 
reflection it did not seem sufficient. Almost 
from the first they had regarded Germany as the 
principal enemy, and they realized clearly that 
the absence of a declaration of war put Italy in a 
false position. By a. Government decree dated 
November 3, 1915, Italy had requisitioned all 
German ships in Italian ports, deferring pay- 
ment " till after the war," and at the beginning 
of February a further decree was published for- 
bidding all trade between Germany and Italy, 
direct or indirect. But these measures did not 
satisfy those who felt that the situation must be 
cleared of every kind of apparent ambiguity. 

Early in February Signor Salandra went to 
Turin, where he delivered several speeches. In 
one of these he made what must be considered 
a serious error in tact, by claiming for the party 
to which he belonged the credit of having led 
Italy to war in defence of her rights. This 
claim was resented by the Interventionists of 
the Left, and matters were made worse by the 
suggestion of a Turin deputy (the Parliamen- 
tary correspondent of the Gazzella del Popolo) 

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that their resentment was due to their wish for 
Signer Bissolati's inclusion in the Cabinet. 
Tins was an unfair criticism. The object of the 
malcontents was not power, though they did 
desire to see Signor Bissolati, and others of their 
number, replace certain Ministers who they con- 
sidered had not proved equal to their duties. 
They wished to be assured that the war would 
be conducted with every possible energy, and 
they believed that the best guarantee for their 
aims was the infusion of fresh blood into the 
Cabinet. An interview granted by Signor 
Salandra to the Deputy mentioned above, 
Signor Bevione, did not mend matters. Signor 
Salandra declared that political crises must 
always be resolved in Parliament, but that 
neither newspapers, nor political groups, nor 
even a Parliamentary majority, could compel 
the Premier to discard some of his colleagues 
and appoint new Ministers. This seemed a 
direct challenge to those who hoped for a recon- 
struction of the Ministry, and on February 9 
a memorial was sent to Signor Salandra by the 
representatives of the Interventionists of the 
Left and the Nationalists. The memorial stated 
that the Interventionist groups had given the 
fullest support to the Government, but that 
they felt it their special duty, as advocates of 
the war, to draw attention to what they con- 
sidered the shortcomings of those who were 
directing the policy and actions of Italy. These 
alleged shortcomings have already been indi- 
cated, and need not be repeated here. Signor 
Salandra replied the following day, in 20 words, 
promising that the memorial would have 
all his attention, but no further answer was 
received. Further discussion was delayed by 
M. Briand's visit to Rome, which was a. symbol 
of the increased solidarity between the Allies, 
but the reopening of Parliament was awaited 
with special interest. 

The spring session began well with a speech 
by Signor Bissolati proposing that a message 
should be sent to the French Chamber expressing 
complete unity between Italy and France. He 
insisted on the unanimity of the Allies, and 
declared that as on the western front France 
and England were righting against Austria- 
Hungary, so on the Isonzo Italy was fighting 
against Germany. The speech was received 
with the greatest enthusiasm, all the Deputies, 
except the official Socialists, rising to acclaim 
his words and signify their agreement with the 
proposed message. But stoims were soon to 
come. Within a week Signor Salandra offended 

a large section of the Chamber by the manner in 
which he refused to accept a proposal to divide 
the House on an unimportant motion brought 
forward by the official Socialists. The Ex- 
treme Left were certainly displaying an attitude 
unworthy of the times and had given much 
provocation, but unruly behaviour on the part 
of the Socialists is a long tradition in Italian 
politics, and no Premier can afford to lose 
patience with the Chamber. Signor Salandra 
did lose patience, and astonished the House by 
tlireatening an appeal to the Crown if Deputies 
continued to press for votes on all occasions. 
The Premier's words were taken by all the Left 
as indicating a lack of proper respect for the 
rights of the Chamber, and the Interventionists 
who had hitherto supported him seemed to re- 
sent what they termed his " reactionary atti- 
tude " as much as did the official Socialists. 
It was from this date that the movement for a 
National Government, which had hitherto re- 
ceived little support, began to gain weight. 
Several stormy sittings followed, but the criti- 
cisms which had been expected from the Inter- 
ventionist Left were not well defined. An 
interview between the Premier and Signor Bisso- 
lati led to an alteration in the attitude of those 
who were working with the latter, and it seems 
clear that the Reformist leader received some 
assurance as to the position of Italy in regard to 
Germany. The keynote of the Interventionists' 
argument had hitherto been that the diplomatic 
situation must be cleared up. Now their chief 
contention was that the Government must be 
reinforced, so as to represent all the elements 
favourable to the war. The debate on the 
Government's economic policy brought no very 
satisfactory statements from the Ministers 
attacked, and before the division an event of 
first-class political importance took place. The 
Interventionist groups of the Left, who had 
been acting together since before the war, 
formally joined forces under the leadership of 
Signor Bissolati, and constituted themselves 
into a bloc under the name of the Democratic 
Alliance. Speaking on the eve of the division 
in the name of the 140 members who constituted 
the new party, Signor Bissolati declared that he 
and his friends were not satisfied with the 
answers given to the critics of the Government. 
He said, however, that they were convinced 
that the Cabinet saw the necessity for complete 
solidarity between the Allies, and for that 
reason they had resolved to do nothing that 
might weaken the Government on the eve of 



A lonely Austrian sentry on guard in the Dolomites. 

the Paris Conference. In the course of his 
.speech in defence of the policy of the Govern- 
ment Signor Salandra had resented the sugges- 
tion that Italy had not put her whole heart 
in the war, declaring that Italy " now holds her 
place in the front line of the great war, on equal 
terms with those Powers with whom in full and 
loyal solidarity of action she is fighting for the 
defence of human civilization and the law of 
nations." This seemed a fairly satisfactory 
statement, and no doubt did something to 
placate the malcontents. There had been a 
long discussion between the leaders of the new 
bloc as to whether they should continue to sup- 
port the Government, and Signor Bissolati had 
some difficulty in winning his followers to his 
way of thinking. Indeed, when the division 
came, the Reformist Socialists, Signori Rai- 
mondo and Cabrini, broke away from their 
friends and voted against the Government, as 
did the small Nationalist group. The Govern- 
ment majority, however, was sufficiently impo- 
sing : 394 votes to 61. Signor Salandra was 
safe for the moment, but it was realized that 
the Democratic Alliance, from that time 
onwards, practically held the Government in 
their hands. The closing passage of Signor 
Bissolati's speech, every phrase of which had 

been considered by the leaders of the new party, 

outlined the policy for which they stood. It 

ran as follows : 

The programme, not of this Government only, but of 
any Government which would not betray Italy, is one 
only — Victory. A victory which, fortunately for 
civilization, cannot be the victory of Italy, of France, of 
Russia, or of England, but is the victory which, being 
affirmed in the resurrection of Belgium and Serbia, in 
the liberation of France, in the attainment of Italy's 
national claims, and in the reconstitution of Poland, 
will lay the granite foundations of a Europe free and 
truly civilized, assured against the manoeuvres of a 
military caste, and dedicated to the fruitful works of 

The visits of Signor Salandra, Baron Son- 
nino and General Cadorna to Paris, the reso- 
lutions passed at the Paris Conference, and the 
visit of Mr. Asquith to Rome, combined 
together to strengthen the position of the 
Government, which had been badly shaken. 
There was comparatively little criticism of 
Baron Somiino's definite and emphatic refusal, 
in his speech on the Foreign Estimates, to 
consider the suggestion that Parliament should 
be more closely associated with the conduct 
of Italy's foreign policy. He pointed out that 
the abandonment of "secret diplomacy" 
would simply play into the hands of the enemy, 
and both the Chamber and public opinion saw 
the force of his argument. The Foreign Esti- 



mates wen: passed by 352 votes to 36, and there 
seemed no speeial reason to anticipate a crisis 
when Parliament reassembled. Signor Salan- 
dra was, in fact, ready to include Signor 
Bissolati in his Cabinet, but the Reformist 
leader was unwilling to accept office. He felt 
that it would be difficult to reconcile his ideas 
with the Premier's methods, and preferred to 
retain his independence of action, but it was 
generally hoped and believed that Signer 
Salandra would learn from the experience of 
the March sittings that he must modify his 
attitude towards the Chamber and the country. 
The storm blew up very quickly at the end. 
The Chamber reopened on June 0, and the 





^B IP^I^liHi flRKMJiJ^I 1 



(On the right Signor Salandra.) 

first two days of the session were occupied in 
quiet discussion of the Budget. On June 8, 
however, a motion was presented by Signer 
Eugenio Cliiesa, a prominent member of the 
Democratic Alliance, calling upon the Govern- 
ment to make a declaration regarding the 
military situation. He suggested the holding 
of a secret session if the Government was un- 
willing to make a public statement, but he 
urged that the country was growing restive at 
the absence of any Government declaration, 
and resented the discussion of the Budget at. a 
time when all eyes were turned upon the 
Trentino. Signor Bissolati deprecated the 
pressing of the motion, but suggested that the 
Government might find a way of taking the 

leaders of the various groups into its con 
fidence. Signor Salandra's reply did not 
satisfy the Chamber. He appealed for patience, 
assuring the House that they would have 
ample opportunity of discussing the general 
policy of the Government when the time came 
for the Vote on Account. The Vote was to be 
taken in four days' time, and meanwhile he 
asked the Chamber to continue its ordinary 
work. In obedience to the appeal of Signor 
Bissolati, Signor Chiesa withdrew his motion, 
but the Chamber quickly altered the situation 
to the disadvantage of the Government. When 
the Debate on the Estimates of the Ministry of 
the Interior was resumed only one Deputy spoke, 
and the Estimates went through without 
further discussion. The Estimates of the 
Ministries of Finance and the Treasury were 
disposed of without a word, the Colonial 
Estimates were passed after the briefest dis- 
cussion, and the sitting closed early. No fewer 
than 110 Deputies who were inscribed to speak 
on the various Estimates withdrew their 
names, and it was clear that the Chamber 
meant to answer silence by silence. 

The next day's sitting was short, the voting 
being taken on the Estimates which had been 
discussed, or rather, not discussed, on the 
previous day. The Government was far from 
obtaining its usual war majority ; the Estimates 
of the Ministry of the Interior, for example, 
being passed by a majority of only 71 — 191 
votes to 120. The small number of Deputies 
voting was significant. 

By the evening of June 9 the situation was 
fairly clear. Signor Salandra was tired of the 
Chamber, and the Chamber was tired of Signor 
Salandra. The Premier had perforce advanced 
the discussion on the Vote on Account two 
days, and had indicated that he meant to ask 
for an unconditional vote of confidence. The 
Interventionist Left, who held Iris fate in their 
hands, were still uncertain. Conciliation would 
have probably saved the Ministry, but Signor 
Salandra was in anything but a conciliatory 
mood. It is believed that he was weary of 
office. He had lived through two years 
of exceptional strain, and the sittings of 
the spring and the summer had seemed to 
indicate that his nerves were feeling the long 

In any event, he had showed himself un- 
yielding to suggestion, and when the moment 
of crisis came he showed himself equally 
unyielding to the pressure of circumstances. 



Shelling the Austrian trenches to assist the Italian Army in the Trentino. 

The speech he made in requesting a vote of 
confidence was not happily phrased, and he 
gave the impression of being altogether out of 
touch with the Chamber. One passage in 
particular was unfavourably received. He 
said that better prepared defences on the 
Trentino front would at least have arrested the 
enemy at a greater distance from the Venetian 
plain. This was, of course, perfectly true, 
and it was typical of the feeling that had grown 

up against the Premier that the Chamber 
strongly resented his bringing the question of 
the military command into his speech. In 
answer to criticism, Signor Salandra rose to 
explain that he was not criticizing the Comando 
Supremo, but merely expressing their con- 
sidered opinion. The explanation might well 
have been sufficient, but it was not so considered, 
and it must be admitted that Signor Salandra 
ought to have said either more or nothing. 



Italian Prime Minister. 

After his speech it was generally felt that 'the 
Premier had already fallen, and the result of 
the voting — 197 to 158 against the Govern- 
ment. — caused no surprise. 

The majority which defeated the Salandra 
Government represented almost all shades of 
opinion. It was composed as follows : Official 
Socialists, 37; Reformists, 20; Radicals, 35; 
Giolittians. 50 ; Right, including the National- 
ist Group, 25 ; Republicans, 10 ; Democratic 
Constitutionalists, 20. The important point 
was that more than half of the malcontents 
came from those groups which from the 6rst 
were most strongly m favour of Italy's partici- 
pation in the war, the groups which had recently 
been pressing for a declaration of war on Ger- 
many and the reconstruction of the Cabinet 
on a wide basis. The balance was turned by 
the Democratic Alliance, and it was clear at 
once that their ideas would count for much 
in the formation of the new Cabinet. 

Signor Salandra was defeated on June 10, and 
resigned on June 12. The King, who arrived 
in Rome from the war zone on the morning of 
June 12, did not at once accept Signor Salandra's 
resignation, reserving liis decision until he had 
consulted various political leaders. Two 

currents of opinion made themselves felt 
immediately — one in favour of a reconstruction 
of the outgoing Ministry, still under the leader- 
ship of the two men who had led Italy to war ; 
the other supporting a " National Ministry " 
under the presidency of the veteran Signor 
Boselli, Father of the Italian Chamber of 
Deputies. It was soon realized that the " re- 
incarnation " of Signor Salandra would probably 
lead to a repetition of the difficulties which had 
caused his fall, and opinion quickly concen- 
trated upon Signor Boselli, who was the first 
choice of King Victor Emmanuel. Signor 
Boselli was indicated to the King by Signor 
Salandra, and also, by the Presidents of the 
Chamber and Senate, and it was felt that he, 
better than anyone else, might be able to unite 
a sufficient number of elements in the Chamber 
to form a Cabinet on a really broad basis. He 
quickly secured the adhesion of Signor Orlando, 
Minister of Justice in Signor Salandra's Cabinet, 
who represented the Liberals of the Left and 
had recently been spoken of as a possible Prime 
Minister, and of Signor Bissolati, who brought 
with him the support of the Democratic Alliance. 
Signor Boselli's chief difficulty lay in filling the 
position of Minister of Foreign Affairs. He was 
anxious to secure the cooperation of Baron 
Sonnino at his old post, and in this desire he 
was backed by the great body of opinion in the 
country. Two obstacles arose. Tn the first 
place, Baron Sonnino was not anxious to remain 
at the Consulta. He was unwilling to sever his 
political fate from that of Signor Salandra, 
and he was determined to make it .a condition 
of his remaining in office that adequate reserve 
should be maintained regarding foreign policy. 
In the second place, there was a strong move- 
ment in Parliament and in the Press in favour 
of Signor Tittoni. the Italian Ambassador in 
Paris. Signor Tittoni, however, was not ac- 
ceptable to the Democratic Alliance, who con- 
sidered that his career had been too much the 
creation of Signor Giolitti to allow him to preside 
at the Consulta at such -a period. Baron 
Sonnino's personal scruples were overcome and 
his conditions were readily met by Signor 
Boselli. The opposition to his remaining at the 
Consulta never took serious form, and on 
June 15 it was announced that he had consented 
to retain his portfolio. The construction of 
the Cabinet progressed quickly after Signor 
Boselli had assured himself of the support of 
the three leaders mentioned, and late on the 
evening of June 18, a list of Ministers was 


1 JO 

Scaling the precipitous peaks of Monte Tofana, where the Italian troops drove the enemy out of the 




published which was practically complete. A 
day later the last names were added, and the 
new Cabinet received the approval of the 

The Ministry was composed as follows : 

Signor Boselli, Prime Minister, without portfolio. 

Baron Sonnino, Foreign Affairs. 

Signor Orlando, Interior. 

Signor Bissolati, without portfolio. 

Signor Carcano, Treasury. 

Signor Meda, Finance. 

Signor Rufnni, Education. 

General Morrone, War. 

Admiral Corsi, Marine. * 

Signor Arlotta, Transport. 

Signor Sacchi, Justice. 

Signor Bonomi, Public Works. 

Signor Fera, Post Office. 

Signor Colosirno, Colonies. 

Signor Raineri, Agriculture. 

Signor Do Nava, Industry and Commerce. 

Signor Comandini, without portfolio. 

Signor Scialoja, without portfolio. 

Signor Leonardo Bianchi, without portfolio. 

The Cabinet now consisted of 19 members, 
instead of 13. There wore five Ministers with- 
out portfolios instead of one, and two new 
portfolios were created by the establishment 
of a Ministry of Transport and the severance 
of the departments of Industry and Commerce 
from the Ministry of Agriculture. 

The new Ministry came very close to the ideal 
of a National Government. There were six 
Liberal Conservatives or Right Centre members, 
Signor Boselli, Baron Sonnino, Signor De Nava, 
Signor Arlotta, Signor Ruffini and Signor 
Scialoja. There was one Catholic, Signor 
Meda. There were five Liberals of the Left, 
Signori Orlando, Carcano, Raineri, Colosirno 
and Leonardo Bianchi ; two Radicals, Signori 
Sacchi and Fera ; two Reformist Socialists, 
Signori Bissolati and Bonomi ; and one Re- 
publican, Signor Comandini. 

The announcement of the new Ministry met 
with as great a measure of acceptance as could 
be hoped. Naturally there were some dis- 
appointments. There was not room, even in a 
greatly enlarged Cabinet, for all those who had 
strong claims to office. And some of those 
whose claims were strong per se were not likely 
to work well with those whose choice was in- 
evitable. The greatest danger attending a 
Government which included so many different 
colours lay in the possibility of internal dis- 
sension, and it was necessary to avoid 

appointments which would clearly lead to 

The fall of Signor Salandra was greatly re- 
gretted in Italy even by many who had felt 
bound to criticize his attitude. His name will 
always be associated with the most important 
action taken by Italy since her existence as a 
united country, and if he could have accommo- 
dated himself to the requirements of the situa- 
tion, satisfaction would have been general. 
Another cause for regret was the retirement of 
Signor Ferdinando Martini, Minister of the 
Colonies. Signor Martini was closely associated 
with Signor Salandra and Baron Sonnino in the 
policy which guided Italy to intervention. But 
he, too, was suffering from the long strain. He 
was approaching his 75th birthday when the 
crisis took place, and he had earned the right 
to rest. 

The new Government was certainly stronger 
than the old, as far as personnel was concerned, 
and it commanded a very different measure of 
support in the Chamber. The moderate 
Giolittians, who had come to see the absolute 
necessity of Italy's intervention, could much 
more readily give their adhesion to a Government 
of which Signor Salandra was not the head. 
They were directly represented in the Cabinet 
by Signor Colosirno, and there were old ties, 
which they could renew, with Signor Orlando 
and others. Far the most striking figure among 
the new Ministers was Signor Bissolati. A 
Socialist who had parted company with his 
comrades on the question of the Tripoli expedi- 
tion, he had from the first stood openly for 
Italy's intervention against Germany and 
Austria. From the first, moreover, he had seen 
that Germany was the prime enemy. He had a 
great following in the country and was specially 
popular in the army, which remembered that 
for many months he had fought as a sergeant 
of Alpini, and had been wounded in the early 
days of the campaign. 

Signor Boselli was 78 years old, but he 
brought to his task a fresh and vigorous mind, 
as well as long Parliamentary experience. And 
all his colleagues were united in their determina- 
tion to prosecute the war with the utmost 
vigour, and to consolidate the alliance with 
England, France and Russia 



Looking Forward to a Fight — German Naval Policy — First News of the Battle : a Mis- 
leading Communique' — Official Excuses — German Versions — The Ships Engaged on Both 
Sides — The Battle-Cruisers Come into Action — Sir David Beatty Draws the Germans 
Northward — Arrival of Sir John Jellicoe with the Battle Fleet — Retreat of the Enemy 
— Work of the Light Cruisers and Destroyers — British and German Losses — Tales of 

IN the afternoon and evening of May 31, 
1916, an action was fought in the North 
Sea between the Grand Fleet under 
Admiral Sir John Jellicoe and the German 
High Sea Fleet under Admiral Reinhold 
Scheer. The genesis of the encounter will be 
discussed later, but its successive stages, with 
one important difference, followed the normal 
lines of similar affairs which had taken place 
during the war. First, the advanced vedettes, 
the light cruisers and destroyers, got into 
touch, and then the reconnaissance squadrons, 
the battle-cruisers, became engaged, just as 
happened in the Heligoland Bight on August 
28, 1914, and at the Dogger Bank on January 
24, 1915. Presently, the unusual happened, 
and the German battle fleet arrived, to support 
its cruisers, and a little later the British battle 
squadrons came into the fray. Then the 
aspect of the conflict underwent an entire 

For twenty-two months the British public 
had looked forward almost daily to such an 
encounter — a pitched battle at sea, as it was 
called. There was no anxiety as to the result, 
for although the dire consequences of a naval 
defeat were well recognized, the nation had 
entire trust in its seamen, and confidently 
expected that if a suitable opportunity offered 
they would win a decisive victory. It had 
been asserted that the command of the sea 
Vol. IX.— Part 108. 

could not be obtained until a fleet action had 
been fought. The reasoning by which this 
theory was supported was against the teaching 
of history, and, moreover, it derived no con- 
firmation from known conceptions of German 
strategy and naval needs. The conditions in 
which the two navies faced one another were 
not such as to give promise of a speedy conflict 
on a large scale. The enemy's flag had dis- 
appeared from the ocean. The oversea traffic 
of the Allies continued practically unmolested, 
save by submarines. British naval policy was 
in the main directed to the destruction of the 
enemy's commerce and trade and to the 
enforcement of what in all but name was a 
blockade. His warships were shut up in port, 
watched by the British seamen, whose only 
desire was to draw them out and drub them. 
So long as the enemy made no attempt to take 
to the sea in force, it was not easy to see how 
a decisive engagement could be brought about. 
Nevertheless, it was hoped that, as the blockade 
became more stringent, this and other circum- 
stances might operate to force the Germans to 
risk a battle. The British seamen only waited 
an opportunity to translate their desires into 

When, however, the battle occurred, neither 
the manner in which it was made known to the 
country, the circumstances in which it was 
fought, nor its results, were exactly what the 




nation had expected or the seamen hoped for. 
By a trick of fortune they were baulked 
of complete satisfaction. The disappointment 
was not lasting, for with later news came an 
assurance of triumph, and in any case the faith 
of the people in the Navy never weakened or 
abated. The message of congratulation which 
King George sent to the Commander-in-Chief 
after paying a visit to the Grand Fleet ex- 
pressed in fehcitous terms their trust and 
satisfaction. " Assure all ranks and ratings," 
said the King, " that the name of the British 
Navy never stood higher in the eyes of their 
fellow-countrymen, whose pride and confidence 
in their achievements are unabated." 

The significance and import of the battle, 
however, were not immediately realized, and 
until all the conditions were known attempts 
to appraise its strategical value would have 
been premature. The purpose of the " enter- 
prise directed northward," in which the Ger- 
mans announced on June 1 that their Fleet had 
been engaged, remained obscure. The extent 
of the enemy's success or failure could not be 
calculated until the precise military object 
which they were seeking to attain was known. 
Manifestly, it was not to the advantage of 
either of the participants to reveal details of 
the engagement which might be of value to 
the other side. Reticence %vas essential so 

long as hostilities continued. Even were the 
war ended, the features of an encounter which 
illustrated so much that was novel in sea 
fighting ; the relations which certain move- 
ments bore to the intelligence of the enemy's 
position and strength ; the manoeuvres by 
which the German admiral saved his ships 
from destruction ; the vise of various classes 
and typos of vessels ; the efficie icy of methods 
of protection and equipment — these and many 
other technical problems were likely for a long 
time to afford subjects for professional dis- 
cussion. Similar questions concerning earlier 
naval actions of the era of steam and steel — 
Lissa, Santiago, and Tsushima — were still de- 
bated, and after a hundred years the tactics 
of Trafalgar were under examination by an 
official committee of experts. 

For nearly two years the Grand Fleet had 
occupied a position in the North Sea facing 
the principal bases of the enemy. Behind this 
guard, the Allies were able to conduct the 
passage of their trade and troops practically 
unmolested. Campaigns for the possession of 
the enemy's colonies, and oversea expeditions, 
were undertaken ; and assistance was rendered 
to the land forces in three continents without 
let or hindrance. Furthermore, the Fleet pro- 
vided a safeguard to these islands from inva- 
sion, and enforced what was to all intents and 

Watching for the German Fleet. 



Commander-in-Chief, Grand Fleet. In the uniform of a Vice-Admiral. 

purposes a strangulation of trade with Germany, 
the stringency of which was only limited by 
the diplomatic requirements of the Govern- 
ment. All these operations could not have 
been performed without exertions which im- 
posed a severe test upon those qualities of 
endurance, resource, patience and skill for 
which British seamen are renowned. The 
strain was ceaseless. It necessitated arduous 
work in all the weathers to be experienced in 
the higher latitudes. The peril from the mine 

and the submarine mena.ce were always present, 
and the call upon the vigilance of the flotillas 
and fleets on patrol service unremitting. But 
every demand was fully met. While, however, 
the predominant position at sea was thus 
maintained, there was in being, within a short 
distance of our shores, the second strongest 
fleet in the world, manned by courageous and 
competent officers and men, and controlled by 
the same wily, unscrupulous, and determined 
authorities in Berlin whose barbarous methods 



May 31-June 1, 1916. 

of waging war had received shocking demonstra- 
tion alike on land and sea. Forced by the 
rigours of the blockade, by the economic pres- 
sure which told upon the production of material 
for the land warfare, and by the restriction of 
their sources of wealth and prosperity resulting 
from the loss of sea-borne commerce — this fleet 
might at any time be flung into the arena to 
pick up the gage of battle, opportunity for 
which was always offered and ardently desired 
by the British seamen. When the opportunity 
did occur, and the hopes which inspired the 
latter seemed likely to be fulfilled, their 
opponents fought indeed with courage and 

skill, but they evaded decisive action, and 
retired to their fortified bases. The Grand 
Fleet still retained an undisputed mastery of 
the sea communications ; its grip was not 
weakened, much less broken ; while, tried in 
the test of battle, the prestige of the British 
Navy, as well as its efficiency, stood on a higher 
plane than ever. 

There was, as always, a moral as well as a 
material aspect to the battle. Although the 
Germans were able, owing to the proximity 
of their harbours, to promulgate their version 
of the action first, the impression created by 
their false and misleading announcements was 



dissipated when the fuller British accounts 
were published. The conflict afforded an 
opportunity to the British seamen for a display 
of those qualities of courage, endurance, and 
skill which were confidently expected of them. 
It is not in mortals to command success, but 
in this battle there was displayed in the Grand 
Fleet convincing evidence of readiness to take 
the initiative, of consummate ability in execu- 
tion, and of capacity, boldness, and daring 
which thoroughly deserved to succeed. Great 
Britain and Germany were the two most 
formidable of naval Powers, and, despite the 
material superiority of the former, their navies 
were in other respects apparently well matched. 
The Germans were assured that their methods 
of training, their guns and mechanical equip- 
ment, with the armament and armour supplied 
by Krupp, were better than those of their 
opponents. Given that they could choose their 
own time and place for action, they believed 
that these advantages would more than com- 
pensate for a deficiency in numbers. Yet 
when tried in the stern ordeal of battle, the 
higher standard of technique was on the other 
side. Neither in nerve nor in moral were the 
staying powers of the Germans equal to those 
of their opponents, nor did they prove the 
better in tactical efficiency, scientific gunnery, 
or the handling of ships and machinery. 

In character and organization the fleet 
which Grand Admiral von Tirpitz created was 
designed to serve two purposes. It was to be 
both a political influence and an instrument of 
war. In the event of European complications, 
it was intended that the possession of a fleet 
of such strength by Germany should force Great 

Britain to remain neutral. Not even the 
mightiest Naval Power would, it was said, dare 
to incur the risk involved in fighting it. Thus 
the much-dreaded blockade would be pre- 
vented. The other and much older purpose 
was the use of the Fleet — its inferiority being 
recognised — for making sudden onslaughts, 
bolts from the blue, hussar-like strokes, which 
at little cost to the assailant would inflict 
damage of a serious character principally on 
the hostile naval force, but with avoidance of 
a contested or prolonged action. The first 
purpose failed when Mr. Churchill and Admiral 
Prince Louis of Battenberg sent the Grand 
Fleet into the North Sea to its fighting stations, 
and this country decided on war. Great 
Britain, thanks largely to Mr. McKenna and 
Admiral of the Fleet Lord Fisher, had built 
up a fleet which was in a position to take the 
risk of engaging even the High Sea Fleet if 
required to do so. But. in the early months of 
the war a naval battle on the grand scale was 
not in Germany's programme. The strategic 
line imposed upon her by the appearance of 
that supreme British Fleet in the North Sea was 
a modification of the two ideas above mentioned. 
In the outer seas an attempt was made to 
interfere with British trade, which was to some 
extent successful, but it came to an untimely 
end, with no inconsiderable loss of useful 
cruisers, as a result of the British victory off 
the Falklands. Nearer home, sallying tactics 
were tried, with the assistance of the mine and 
the submarine, in the belief that such damage 
as resulted might gradually whittle away the 
supremacy of the superior fleet and provide 
an opportunity for larger operations. In the 

which took part in the battle. 

10S— 2 




Commander-in-Chief of the High Sea Fleet. 

face of the energy, resource, and ingenuity of 
the British seamen, this plan also was of little 

The new naval policy was thus one of 
strategic reticence, varied by cruiser raids and 
submarine adventures. In its defended ports 
the High Sea Fleet was beyond the reach of 
our naval forces, while at the same time, 
by reason of the Kiel Canal, it served to secure 
the flanks and rear of the armies which 
on interior lines were operating on two 
fronts. Nevertheless, it could not protect 
Germany's foreign possessions or her sea- 
borne commerce. It could not prevent that 
naval compression, the strangling effects of 
which were severely felt, even when minimized 
to some extent by economic organization, by 
the help of neutrals, and by the development 
of internal communications. The new plan 
offered a striking contrast to Germany's bold 
campaign on land, but the Grand Admiral 
quoted with approval Nelson's saying : " Do 
not imagine I am one of those hot-brained 
people who fight at a disadvantage without an 
adequate object." Attempts could still be 
made against the floating trade of the Allies, 
and von Tirpitz threw himself with character- 
istic energy into the enforcement of a " sub- 
marine blockade " — a secret, sneaking war. 
directed alike against neutral and belligerent, 
merchantman and fishing boat. The " selected 

moment," the time to strike with advantage, 
had not yet come, and before it was thought 
to have done so von Tirpitz went into retire- 

During the time that the Grand Admiral was 
at the Ministry of Marine the policy of ruthless 
submarine activity prevailed, and the cruiser 
raids which preceded the Dogger Bank action 
were made against the East Coast. It was 
said, however, that in regard to the use of the 
battle fleet Tirpitz counselled prudence and 
caution, and that he was even opposed to 
risking the Dreadnoughts in the Baltic. If, 
therefore, he had a deciding voice in naval 
strategy, it was assumed there would be 
no fleet action. Up to September, 1915, 
when the first rumours of the removal of 
von Tirpitz appeared, there had only been 
one mention of a movement on the part 
of the High Sea Fleet. This was in April, 
1915, when the Fleet was said to have advanced 
into English waters. What exactly was meant 
by this official announcement was never made 
clear, but it followed upon the appointment oi 
Admiral Hugo von Pohl as Commander-in- 
Chief in the place of Admiral Ingenohl, who 
was supposed to have been relieved in conse- 
quence of the failure at the Dogger Bank. It 
seems likely that von Tirpitz had more to do 

Commanded the German reconnoitring fleet. 





Engaging the German Battleships, 

with the policy of ship construction than with 
the control of the Fleet. There appears to be 
some reason for the belief that instead of 
pressing on the building of heavier vessels he 
concentrated the resources of the arsenals and 
shipyards — on the former of which the land 
requirements must have been making a very 
heavy call — upon submarine output and 
perhaps some novel devices. The rumours of 
changes in the armament of ships, and of the 
appearance of new and strange craft — " the 
novel dangers requiring novel expedients," as 
Mr. Churchill said — were founded to some extent 
on a phrase in a letter to von Tirpitz from the 
Kaiser, who thanked him for what he had 
accomplished during the war " by preparing 
new means of fighting in all departments of 
warfare." The composition of the German 
Fleet in the action of May 31 afforded no 
support, however, to this theory. 

The direction of the operations of the Fleet 
appears to have been more particularly in the 
nands of the Naval General Staff, and the 
appointment in the autumn of 1915 of von 
Holtzendorff (who had commanded the Fleet 
himself from September, 1909, to January, 
1913) as Chief of that Staff, in succession to 
Admiral Bachmann, apparently coincided 
■with changes in policy. At all events, on 

December 19, 1915, the Admiralty Staff at 
Berlin announced that a portion of the High 
Sea Fleet in the previous week had searched 
the North Sea for the enemy, and then cruised 
on the 17th and 18th in the Skager Rak, 
searching shipping. Fifty-two steamers were 
examined, it was stated, and one steamer 
loaded with contraband was seized. " During 
this entire period," the announcement con- 
cluded, " the English fighting forces were 
nowhere to be seen." It must have been 
about this time that von Pohl found himself 
too unwell to continue the active work of his 
command, and he was temporarily succeeded 
by Vice - Admiral Scheer, a division com- 
mander. In February, 1910, von Pohl 
died, and Scheer was confirmed in the 
appointment, but even before this hap- 
pened there began to be rumours of increased 
liveliness, and reports from fishermen and 
other sources that the High Sea Fleet, or 
portions of it, were making short cruises. 
In March, 25 ships were seen off Vlieland, 
on the Dutch coast, and a little later 
other squadrons moving in the same locality. 
Then in April the Yarmouth raid occurred, 
and both from Holland and Denmark move- 
ments at Kiel and Heligoland, as well as 
unusual activity in the dockyards, were re- 



K.C.B.. M.V.O.. D.S.O., 

Commanded the Battle-cruiser Fleet. 
In the uniform of a Vice-Admiral. 

ported. It was widely believed by neutrals 
that the enemy would attempt some stroke, 
and that the gun practice continually being 
carried out behind the mine-fields, with the 
airships which in fine weather were always 
patrolling the North Sea, were symptoms of 
this impending movement. Most certainly 
there were reflections in various directions of 
a more energetic hand at the wheel. Simul- 
taneously, all that portion of the Press which 
derived its inspiration from the Admiralty — 
Count P^eventlow and the naval officers writing 
for the German papers — appeared to be under 
instructions to prepare the. German people for 
some development of the war at sea. More- 
over, the increasing effect of the blockade, 
internal discontent and unrest, with the new 
co-ordinated efforts of the Allies in the land 
theatres, could not but exercise an influence 
in this direction. 

Although, therefore, the situation was not 
without indication of the possibility of a 
coming conflict — and it may be assumed that 
the signs had been noted and acted upon by 
the naval authorities — yet the public experi- 


Commanded the First Battle-cruiser Squadron. 

enced a great shock when the first news of the 
battle was announced on the evening of Friday, 
June 2. The nation was disappointed, and the 
world deceived. 

There had been rumours in London ot a 
naval engagement on Wednesday night, but 
such rumours were of almost daily occurrence, 
and as no confirmation was forthcoming the 
story was dismissed as others had been before. 
On Thursday, the tidings became more circum- 
stantial, and received support from news which 
leaked out in the dockyard towns and naval 
bases. As, however, the House of Commons 
adjourned shortly after nine p.m., in accordance 
with a resolution moved by the Prime Minister, 
without any announcement on the subject of 
a naval battle having been made, there were 
still doubts as to whether it had taken place. 
It was afterwards explained by Mr. Balfour, 
at a luncheon in the week following the battle, 
at the British Imperial Council of Commerce, 
that he got his first intimation from the 
Commander-in-Chief that an engagement be- 
tween the hostile fleets was imminent on 
Wednesday afternoon, and from that time, 
until a telegram was received from Sir John 
Jellicoe on Friday afternoon, the Admiralty 




Commanded the Second Battle-cruiser Squadron. 

had no news from him as to the course of the 
engagement. Such information as they had 
was mainly obtained from intercepted wireless 
messages, which included, no doubt, the report 
by the German Admiralty to Washington on 
June 1, describing the action and the losses 
which the British were said to have suffered. 
It was not until seven p.m. on Friday, June 2, 
that the following communique was issued by 
the Admiralty through the Press Bureau : — 

On the afternoon of Wednesday, May 31, a naval 
engagement took place off the coast of Jutland. The 
British ships on which the brunt of the fighting fell were 
the Battle-Cruiser Fleet and some cruisers and light 
cruisers, supported by four fast battleships. Among 
those the losses were heavy. The German Battle Fleet, 
aided by low visibility, avoided prolonged action with 
our main forces, and soon after these appeared on the 
scene the enemy returned to port, though not before 
receiving severe damage from our battleships. 

The battle-cruisers Queen Mary, Indefatigable, 
Invincible, and the cruisers Defence and Black Prince 
were sunk. The Warrior was disabled, and, after being 
towed for some time, had to be abandoned by her crew. 
It is also known that the destroyers Tipperary, Turbulent, 
Fortune, Sparrowhawk and Ardent were lost, and six 
others are not yet accounted for. No British battleships 
or light cruisers were sunk. The enemy's losses were 
serious. At least one battle-cruiser was destroyed, and 
one severely damaged ; one battleship reported sunk by 
our destroyers during a night attack ; two light cruiser* 
were disabled and probably sunk. The exact number of 
enemy destroyers disposed of during the action cannot be 
ascertained with any certainty, but it must have been large. 


L. A. HOOD, C.B., M.V.O., D.S.O., 

Commanded the Third Battle-cruiser Squadron. 
In the uniform of a Captain, R.N. 

The wording of this communique, with its 
admissions of British losses apparently much 
heavier than those inflicted upon the enemy, 
gave the impression that it was the preliminary 
and guarded announcement of a naval reverse. 
The evening papers published the news in their 
later editions, and generally it was taken to 
indicate that the Germans, in great strength 
had surprised a portion of the British Fleet 
and inflicted heavy loss upon it before help 
could arrive. The very frankness with which 
heavy casualties were admitted, coupled with 
the statement that soon after our main forces 
" appeared on the scene the enemy returned 
to port," was sufficient to justify such appre- 
hensions as were created by the news. The 
early editions of the morning papers, and most 
of those published in the provinces, contained 
the same communique, with comments founded 
on it. At one o'clock on Saturday morning 
a further announcement was made which put 
a slightly better complexion on the affair. This 
second statement was as follows : — 

Since the foregoing communiqud was issued, a further 
report has been received from the Commander-in-Chief, 
Grand Fleet, stating that it is now ascertained that our 




total losses in destroyers amount to eight boats in all. 
The Commander-in-Chief also reports that it is now 
possible to form a closer estimate of the losses and 
damage sustained by the enemy fleet. One Dread- 
nought battleship of the Kaiser class was blown up in an' 
attack by British destroyers, and another Dreadnought 
battleship of the Kaiser class is believed to have been 
sunk by gun-fire. Of three German battle-cruisers, two 
of which, it is believed, were the Derfflinger and the 
Liitzow, one was blown up, another was heavily engaged 
by our Battle Fleet and was seen to be disabled and 
stopping, and a third was observed to be seriously 
damaged. One German light cruiser and six German 
destroyers were surds, and at least two more German light 
cruisers were seen to be disabled. Further, repeated 
hits were observed on three other German battleships 
that were engaged. Finally, a German submarine was 
rammed and sunk. 

This was published by the newspapers in 
their later editions, and the alterations made 
in the editorial comments showed that it had 
a reassuring effect. Many people, however 
will long retain unpleasant recollections of 
that first Friday night in June, 1916, when 
they might have been sharing in the satis- 
faction of a British naval triumph, had the 
Admiralty acted more judiciously in circulating 
the news. On Saturday and Sunday, June 3 
and 4, a third official communique and two 
semi-official announcements were issued from 
the Admiralty through the Press Bureau. The 
first-named was, in effect, an epitome of the 
dispatches from the Commander-in-Chief pub- 
lished a month later, and showed the action 
in its true light. It finally disposed of the idea 
that the Germans had won a victory, but even 
so its encouraging effect was to some extent 
minimized by the semi-official statements 
which appeared at the same time. The first of 
these was an analysis of the British and German 
losses by Mr. Winston Churchill. After com- 
paring the units of the Fleets alleged to have 
been sunk on either side, and pointing out 
that so far from ours having been the greater 
the balance was the other way about, Mr. 
Churchill went on to say : — 

Our margin of superiority is in no way impaired. The 
despatch of troops to the Continent should continue with 
the utmost freedom, the battered condition of the 
German Fleet being an additional security to us. The 
hazy weather, the fall of night, and the retreat of the 
enemy alone frustrated the persevering efforts of our 
brilliant commanders, Sir John Jellicoe and Sir David 
Beatty, to force a final decision. Although it was not 
possible to compel the German main fleet to accept battle, 
the conclusions reached are of extreme importance. All 
classes of vessels on both sides have now met, and we 
know that there are no surprises or unforeseen features. 
An accurate measure can be taken of the strength of the 
enemy, and his definite inferiority is freed from any 
element of uncertainty. 

This calling in of Mr. Churchill by the First 

Lord to give what the former termed " a 

reassuring interview " was regarded as a weak- 

step on the part of the Admiralty, and aroused 
much criticism. Both Mr. Balfour and Mr. 
Churchill felt constrained to explain why the 
latter was asked to intervene, but neither in 
this matter nor in the attempt to throw the 
blame for the misleading impression created 
by the first communique on to the Press were 
the excuses regarded as entirely satisfactory. 
The other semi-official statement came from 
" a naval officer of high rank," who had had 
access, like Mr. Churcliill, to special sources of 
information. It was in the shape of an inter- 
view with a representative of the Associated 
Press of America on June 3, but was issued 
by the Press Bureau on the following day. The 
various stages of the battle were described, 
with additional details and comments on the 
official reports. To the interviewer, this officer 
further remarked : 

We can only say that we were looking for a fight when 
our Fleet went out. Stories that it was decoyed by the 
Germans are the sheerest nonsense. . . . The battle hod 
four phases, the first opening at 3.15 p.m., when our 
battle-cruisers, at a range of six miles, joined action with 
the German battle-cruisers. Shortly after, the second 
phase began, with the arrival on both sides of battle- 
ships. The Germans arrived first, but before their 
arrival our three battle-cruisers had been blown up, 
supposedlyas the result of gun-fire, but there is a possi- 
bility that they met their fate by torpedoes. 

Such close-range fightinc by battle-cruisers might be 
criticised as bad tactics, but our Fleet, following the 
traditions of the Navy, went out to engage the enemy. 
On account of the weather conditions however, it could 
only do so at short range. 

The third phase was the engagement of battleships, 
which was never more than partial. This phase included 
a running fight, as the German Dreadnoughts fled 
towards their bases. All the big ship fighting was over 
by 9.15. Then came one of the most weird features of 
the battle, as the German destroyers made attack after 
attack, like infantry following an artillery preparation 
on our big ships ; but these onslaughts were singularly 
futile, not a single torpedo launched by them getting 
home. With the morning these attacks ended, and the 
battleground was scoured by Admiral Jellieoe's Fleet, 
which reported not a single enemy ship in sight. 

After a summary of the losses believed to have 
been inflicted upon- the -enemy attention was 
directed to the circumstance that the weather 
conditions were the hardest bit of luck the 
Fleet encountered, as shown by the following 
paragraph in the official report : " Regret 
misty weather saved enemy from far more 
severe punishment." This account of the 
engagement was published in a great number 
of the British and foreign papers. It foimed 
the basis of much of the comment and criticism 
that was made by naval officers and others in 
the United States, where it was doubtless 
intended to counteract the erroneous impres- 
sions created by the announcements which the 




Commanded lhe Battleship "Warspite." 

German Admiralty were issuing. The Ameri- 
cans got their first notion from a Berlin message 
which, being sent by wireless to Sayville, 
escaped the censorship over the cable lines. 
This was supplemented by the German Ad- 
miralty report dated June 1, the text of which 
was as follows : 

During an enterprise directed towards the north, our 
High Sea Fleet on Wednesday (May 31) encountered the 
main part of the British fighting fleet, which was con- 
siderably superior to our forces. During the afternoon, 
between the Skagger Rak and Horn Reef, a heavy 
ongagement developed, which was successful for us, and 
which continued during the whole night. In this 
engagement, so far as is known to us at present, we 
destroyed the great battleship Warspite, the battle- 
cruisers Queen Mary and Indefatigable, two armoured 
cruisers, apparently of the Achilles type, one small 
cruiser, the new destroyer leaders Turbulent, Nestor and 
Alcaster (Acasta), a large number of destroyers, and one 

By observations which are unchallengeable, it is 
known that a larce number of British battleships 
suffered damage from our ships and torpedo craft during 
the day and night actions. Among others, the great 
battleship Marlborough was hit by a torpedo, as has been 
confirmed by prisoners. Several of our ships rescued 
portions of the crews' of the sunk British ships, among 
whom were the only two survivors of the Indefatigable. 

On our side, the small cruiser Wiesbaden was sunk by 
the enemy's guns in the course of the day action, and 
the Pommern during the night by a torpedo. The fate 
of the Frauenlob, which is missing, and of some torpedo 
boats which have not yet returned, is unknown. The 
High Sea Fleet returned to-day (Thursday) to our ports. 

A second official message was issued by the 

Chief of the German Naval Staff on June 3, in 

which the loss of the Elbing was admitted, and 

another on June 7, in which was admitted the 

loss of the vessels Liitzow and Rostock — 


Flag-Captain and Gunnery Director of the Fleet. 

information hitherto withheld, it was announced, 
for military reasons. 

The view generally taken by the American 
Press, from the early British and German 
reports, even by those papers which sympa- 
thized with the cause of the Allies, was that the 
British had suffered a defeat. As an example, 
the Philadelphia Inquirer, an old-established 
journal of well-balanced judgment, said in its 
leading article of June 3 : 

In the first great naval engagement of the war, in a 
conflict for which the British have been a-weatying, and 
in which they counted with confidence on success, they 
have been decisively defeated, and have sustained losses 
which not the most optimistically inclined can regard as 
negligible. ... So far as can be gathered from the 
information at hand, only a comparatively small section 
of the British Fleet was engaged, and it is hardly 
necessary to point out that Great Britain's naval 
superiority has not been materially affected by the losses 
it has sustained. 

The early reports gave rise to erroneous con- 
clusions by others than civilians. The Army 
and Navy Journal, of New York, in its issue of 
June 10, stated that in the opinion of officers 
at the Navy Department, the British battle- 
cruisers got into a place in the engagement for 
which they were entirely unsuited. 

In some quarters there has been a tendency to criticize 
the commander of the Battle-Cruiser Fleet, and par- 
ticularly the commanders of the light armoured cruisers, 
for impetuously rushing into a struggle where thoy were 
at such a disadvantage, but this is explained in part by 
the suggestion that in all probability the British naval 
officeis had been held in leash so long that when they got 
an opportunity to get into action they showed more 
courage than prudence. 




Flag-Captain of the "Invincible." 

Rear-Admiral Caspar F. Goodrich, after quoting 
from the statement of " the naval officer of high 
rank," said : 

It would seem from what we are told that over-con- 
fidence in the hattle-cruisers led to their taking an undue 
share of hard knocks, and that it would have been more 
prudent to let them draw the German battleships to 
within range of the British battleships fast coming to 
their relief. 

Other naval officers expressed similar views. 
Even Admiral Dewey spoke of the unfitness of 
the battle-cruiser to play a leading role in naval 
dramas, and Captain W. S. Sims was evidently 
of the opinion that the Battle-Cruiser Fleet had 
attacked the main body of the German Fleet on 
sight. It was not until the dispatch of Sir John 
Jellicoe and report of Sir David Beatty were 
published that these mistaken inferences were 
corrected, and it was made abundantly clear that 
such conclusions found no warrant in the facts. 

On Tuesday, May 30, the ships of the Grand 
Fleet left their anchorages by instructions from 
the Commander-in-Cliief to carry out one of 
those periodical sweeps of the Xorth Sea of 
which the first to be announced was mentioned 
in an official communique as far back as Sep- 
tember 10, 1914, and many of which had been 
carried out at intervals since the beginning of 
the war. Sir John Jellicoe made it clear in his 
dispatch that every part of the Grand Fleet 
was under his command, and was operating in 
accordance with his orders. From the state- 
ments of visitors to the Fleet, it was known to 

[Maull & Fox. 


Commanded the Destroyer " Tipperary.' 

have been in three sections, and a few days 
earlier the Battle-Cruiser Fleet was reported as 
being in the Firth of Forth. It is essential to 
note that the concerted movements of the Fleet 
were made on Tuesday, because it thus becomes 
clear that the enemy could have had no certain 
knowledge that the Grand Fleet was at sea. 
The location of the sections of the Fleet might 
have been discovered by Zeppelins in the day- 
time, but these could not have seen and re- 
ported the movements of the ships after dark. 
Similarly, the survivors of the Elbing when 
landed in Holland stated that the High Sea 
Fleet had put to sea at 4 a.m. on the morning 
of Wednesday, May 31. This movement, 
therefore, could not have been the cause of the 
Grand Fleet's putting to sea on the previous 
afternoon. An unusual briskness and stir had, 
indeed, been reported at Wilhelmshaven and 
Kiel. Both Fleets were no doubt fully prepared 
for battle when they left port, but the actual 
meeting appears to have happened by chance. 
The object of the sweeps made by the Grand 
Fleet was clear. The intention was to meet 
the enemy, if he could be found, and to engage 
him. The sole purpose in view was his annihi- 
lation as an effective force. The sweeps, it may 
be said, were made in conformity with the policy 
adumbrated by Nelson, " The enemy are still 
in port, but something must be done to provoke 
cr lure them to a battle." It may be asked, 
on the other hand, whether the Germans had 







any serious undertaking in view in coming out 
as they did. Probably they had, first, because 
nothing they had done had lacked purpose, and 
secondly, they had certain advantages which 
were denied to their opponents. The fleet 
which keeps the sea cannot always be at its 
maximum strength. As Admiral W. H. Hen- 
derson pointed out* : — 

Refits and repairs require constant attendance, and 
although our Fleet is superior to that of the enemy it 
is not possible to count upon all the ships of which it is 
composed being perpetually on the spot. . . . The 
Queen Elizabeth and the Australia appear to have been 
absent from the battle, or over 13 per cent, of the 
strength of our fast divisions. Can anyone doubt what 
the addition of those two ships would have meant to the 
hardly-pressed and splendidly-fought squadrons during 
the time in which they were engaged with superior 

The Germans could select the moment to appear 
when they were at their full strength, and of 
this they evidently took advantage. It was 
obviously their correct plan to look for an 
opportunity to cut off and destroy any unit of 
the opposed force inferior in strength, and 
separated so far from its main body as to be 
dealt with before support could be obtained. 
By such tactics the material strength of the 
fleets might be more equally balanced. The 
semi-official statement from Berlin on June 5 
that " the German High Sea forces pushed 
forward in order to engage portions of the 
British Fleet which were repeatedly reported 
recently to be off the south coast of Norway " 
may well have referred to the " enterprise 
directed northward " of the first official com- 
munique, issued on June 1. It was possible 
that by means of Zeppelins the Germans 
had discovered that the periodical sweeps were 
not always carried out by the whole of the 
Grand Fleet. When, therefore, the British 
Battle-Cruiser Fleet was sighted by Hipper's 
scouts on Wednesday afternoon, it would have 
been a natural conclusion to draw that a 
chance had presented itself to attack with their 
full force a weaker British division, and thus 
to gain a comparatively easy success. If this 
was their endeavour, it was completely frus- 
trated by the dogged tenacity of Sir David 
Beatty, with the effective support supplied by 
Rear-Admiral Evan-Thomas, and the decisive 
stroke of the Commander-in-Chief when he 
arrived on the scene of action. In any case 
there was no sign of an intention to seriously 
contest the command of the sea, of a plan for 
breaking the blockade, or of an adventure into 
the Atlantic. Such projects could only be carried 
* Contemporary Review, July, 1916. 


H.M.S. "Queen Mary" (killed). 

out successfully after the British naval forces 
had been depleted by attrition, and that this was 
recognized by the Germans was shown by their 
immediate retirement when it was seen that the 
battle squadrons of Sir John Jellicoe were join- 
ing in the battle. Both sides wanted a fight, but 
the Germans only on their own terms. 

A further advantage would be obtained by 
the Germans, should an engagement occur, 
if they could contrive to bring it about nearer 
to their own ports than to those of the enemy. 
Although not due directly to their own efforts, 
it is nevertheless the fact that this happened. 
The locality in which the battle began was in 
the vicinity of the Little Fisher Bank, and 
to the westward of the Jutland Bank, two shoal 
patches at no great distance from the Danish 
coast. The approximate position of the British 
Battle-Cruiser Fleet on sighting the German 
battle-cruisers was somewhere about 56deg., 
50min. North latitude, and 5deg. 30min. East 
longitude. This position is nearly twice as far 
from the British coast as it is from that of 
Germany. When the battle came to an end 
on the morning of June 1, while the retreating 
German ships had approached much closer to 
their own ports, the Grand Fleet was over 400 



miles from its main base, and its other bases 
were all considerably farther away than the 
German ports. Between the two positions 
which marked the beginning and the end of tie 
encounter, the Horn Rett' projects from the 
Danish coast about ten miles, its outlying point 
marked by a light vessel, and the action was 
certainly nearer to this reef than to the Skager 
Rak. This explains why the encounter was 
sometimes called in this country after the Horn 
Reef, which was much more appropriate than 
to call it after the Skager Rak, as the Germans 
did. Apparently they wished to suggest that 

Royal Sovereign 

Queen Elizabeth (Fifth 

Iron Duke (First Squadron) 

Orion (Second Squadron) ... 

Dreadnought (Fourth 


Lion (First Squadron) 

New Zealand (Second 


Indomitable (Third 


Defence (First Squadron) ... 

Achilles (Second Squadron) 

Black Prince (First 


Galatea (First Squadron) ... 

Southampton (Second 


Falmouth (Third Squadron) 

Calliope (Fourth Squadron) 

Fearless (First Flotilla) 


















2 J 

8 15-in., 
12 6-in. 

13 -in. 




8 15-in., 
12 6-in. 


191 + 



10 13-5-in. 
12 6-in. 





10 13-5-in., 
16 4-in. 





10 12-in.. 
4-in. or 12-pr. 

1 1 -in. 







8 13-5-in., 
16 4-in. 





8 12-in., 
16 4-in. 





8 12-in., 
16 4-in. 

7 in. 

Armoured C 





4 9-2-in., 
10 7-5-in. 





6 9-2-in. 
4 7-5-in. 




o-> i 

6 9-2-in. 









they had no advantage from the scene of the 
battle being in the vicinity of their defended 
harbours. This, however, was not the case. 

Some uncertainty exists as to the identity of 
all the ships which took part in the action. A 
note appended to the dispatch of Sir John 
Jellicoe says : " The list of ships and com- 
manding officers which took part in the action 
has been withheld from publication for the 
present in accordance with practice." It was 
believed that vessels from all the types in the 
following table were present : 

r. Sister. Ships. 

Revenge, etc. 

Warspite, Valiant, Barham, 

Marlborough, Emperor of 
India, Ben bow. 

Conqueror, Monarch, Thun- 
derer, King GJeorge V., 
Ajax, Audacious, Cen- 

Bellerophon, Temeraire, Su- 
perb, St. Vincent, Colling- 
vvood, Vanguard, Neptune, 
Colossus, Hercules. 

Princess Royal, Queen Mary, 

Indefatigable, Australia. 

Inflexible, Invincible. 

10 6-in. 

Light Cruisers. 




J. 850 



2 6-in 
8 4-in 

8 or 9 6-in. 


2 6-in 

8 4-in 




10 4-in 


Particulars unknown, 
['art iculars unknown. 
Particulars unknown. 

Particulars unknown. 




Acasta (" Ii ' 

' type) 



Badger ("I" 








3 4-in 
3 4-in 

- 4-in., 
■2 12-pdrs. 

Minotaur, Shannon. 
Cochrane, Warrior. 
Duke of Edinburgh. 

Aurora, Inconstant, Royalist, 
Penelope, Phaeton," Un- 

Chatham, Dublin, Birming- 
ham, Lowestoft, Notting- 

Dartmouth, Falmouth, Wey- 
mouth, Yarmouth. 

Caroline, Caryslort, Cham- 
pion, Cleopatra, Comus, 
Conquest, Cordelia. 

Active, Blanche, Blonde, 
Belloua, Boadieea. 

Botha, Turbulent, Terma- 
gant, and others. 

Petard, etc. 

Onslaught, Obdurate, etc. 

Nomad, Nicator, Nar- 
borough, Nerissa, etc. 

Manly, Mansfield, Mastiff, 
Matchless, Mentor. Meteor, 
Milne, Minos Miranda, 
Moorsom, Morris, Murray, 
Myngs, etc. 

Lydiard, Lalorey, Lookout, 
Legion, etc. 

Ardent, Fortune, Garland, 
Ambuscade. Shark, Spar- 
rowhawk, Spitfire, etc. 

Defender, Attack, Hornet, 
Phoenix, etc. 





With regard to the Grand . Fleet, the com- 
position of the battle squadrons was not dis- 
closed, the' names of only a few of the vessels 
being mentioned. Sir John Jellicoe refers to 
the movements of three squadrons — the First, 
Second, and Fourth, in the last-named of which 
his flagship, the Iron Duke, was placed. The 
Marlborough was the flagship' ot Sir Cecil 
Burney in the First Squadron ; and the King 
George V. of Sir Thomas Jerram in the Second 
Squadron. According to the German account, 
a squadron of three ships of the Royal Sovereign 
type was also present. One of these was men- 
tioned by the Commander-in-Chief, who stated 
that when the Marlborough was partially dis- 
abled by a torpedo Sir Cecil Burney transferred 
his flag to the Revenge, of the Royal Sovereign 
class. The Fifth Battle Squadron, which 
supported the Battle-Cruiser Fleet, consisted 
of four ships of the Queen Elizabeth type, but 
the name-ship was absent refitting. Rear- 
Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas flew his flag in the 

The nine battle-cruisers present on the British 
side were organized in three squadrons, com- 
manded respectively by Rear- Admirals O. de 

B. Brock, W. C. Pakenham, and the Hon. 
H. L. A. Hood. The Princess Royal flew the 
flag of the first -named : the New Zealand that 
of Admiral Pakenham ; and the Invincible 
that of Admiral Hood. The flag of Vice- 
Admiral Sir David Beatty, Commanding the 
Battle-Cruiser Fleet, was flying in the Lion. 
The five other battle-cruisers were the Queen 
Mary, Tiger, Indefatigable, Indomitable, and 
Inflexible. Admiral Beatty also had under his 
command the First, Second, and Third Light 
Cruiser Squadrons, and destroyers from the 
First, Ninth, Tenth, and Thirteenth Flotillas 
With the Commander-in-Chief and the battle 
squadrons were the First and Second Cruiser 
Squadrons, the Fourth Light Cruiser Squadron, 
and destroyers from the Fourth, Eleventh, and 
Twelfth Flotillas. There were also a number 
of special and auxiliary types represented, in- 
cluding the Engadine, seaplane-carrier. 

There is more doubt about the composition 
of the German High Sea Fleet, under the com- 
mand of Vice-Admiral Scheer, which accord- 
ing to the German account consisted of ?a 
main battle fleet in three squadrons, and a 
reconnoitring fleet of five battle-cruisers under 

Reported to have been seriously damaged in the battle. 



Vice-Admiral Hipper, with light cruisers and 
destroyers attached to both divisions. The 
heavier vessels were probably of the types in the 
table below : 

presence of which would nocessarily reduce 
the speed and fighting capacity of the whole 

Admiral Hipper's five battle-cruisers are said, 













Wilhelm IT. (ex-Worth) .. 




8 15 -in., 
16 5-9- in. 

— , 

" T." 

"N " (ex-Salamis) ... 




8 14-in., 
12 6-in. 







10 12-in.. 
14 5-9-in. 


Markgraf, Grosser Kurlurst, 





10 12-in., 
14 5-9-in. 


Kaiserin, Friedrich der 
Crosse, Konig Albert, 
Prinzregent Luitpold. 




20 J 

12 12-in., 


Ostfriesland, Thuringen, 

14 5-9-in. 






12 11-in., 

12 5-9-in. 
4 11-in., 


Westl'alen, Rheinland, Posen. 

Deutschland ... 




9 1 -in. 

Hannover, Pommern, Schle- 

14 6-7-in. 

sien, Schlqswig-Holstein. 





4 11-in., 
14 6-7-in. 


Elsass, Preussen, Lothrin- 
gen, Hessen. 

Battle-Cruisei s 

Hindenburg ... 




8 15-in., 
14 5-9-in. 







8 12-in., 
12 5-9-in. 







10 11-in., 
12 5-9-in. 



Von der Tann 




8 11-in., 
10 5-9-in. 



Armoured Cruiser. 
1905 9,£50 21 4 8-2 in., 

10 5-9-in. 

4 -in . 

Accepting the German statement, the First 
Squadron of eight battleships would probably 
be composed of the Konig and Kaiser types ; 
the Second of the Helgoland and Nassau types ; 
and the Third of pre-Dreadnought ships, the 
Deutschlands and Braunschweigs. There is 
reason to believe, however, that two new battle- 
ships, which were known when building as the 
Ersatz-Worth and " T," were present. The 
former is said to have been named the Wil- 
he'm II. It was on board a new ship of this 
name that Admirals Scheer and Hipper re- 
ceived the freedom of Wilhelmshaven a few 
weeks after the battle. It was also suggested 
that the Pommern, a vessel of which name the 
Germans admitted was sunk in the action, was 
not the old pre-Dreadnought ship of this name — 
which was understood to have been torpedoed 
in the Baltic by a British submarine in July, 
1915 — but the much more modern and power- 
ful vessel known as " T." Another possibility 
is that the vessel named the Salamis, which 
was building in Germany for the Greeks when 
the war broke out, took part in the battle under 
some other name. At all events, it is difficult 
to believe that the homogeneity of the German 
squadrons -would have been broken by the 
inclusion of some of the older ships, the 

in the German official account, to have consisted 
of the Derfflinger and Moltke classes, as well as 
the Von der Tann. The Liitzow, in which 
Admiral Hipper's flag was flying during part of 
the action, was the sister-ship of the Derfflinger, 
and the Seydlitz of the Moltke. Some British 
observers were of opinion that a later battle- 
cruiser, the Hindenburg, was present, and not 
the Von der Tann, and this is the more likely, as 
the inclusion of the latter would have tended to 
reduce the speed of the squadron. 

Thus at about two o'clock on the afternoon 
of Wednesday, May 31, two large naval forces 
were approaching one another in the North 
Sea. Each of these forces consisted of a main 
body comprising three squadrons of their latest 
battleships. Each also had an advanced or 
reconnoitring squadron of battle-cruisers thrown 
out some distance before the main body. Each, 
too, was accompanied by satellites, seme of 
which w-ere still more advanced, for scouting 
purposes, and as a protective screen against 
submarines. It is characteristic of the sea 
operations that two such bodies as these, each 
containing all the latest scientific appliances 
for sea fighting, although they might be cruising 
in the same waters, might seldcm ccme into 




Engagement of one of the British destroyers with German cruisers, as revealed by German star-shells, 

and firelight caused by a huge shell which struck the British vessel. Caught between two fires and 

fighting to the last, the officers and men of the destroyer gave a good account of themselves before 

she sank. The German vessel was badly damaged by a torpedo. 

contact, and that months might elapse without 
an engagement. Even when they do meet, it 
does not follow that there is continuity of 

fighting, such as may be observed in the clash 
of armies on land. 

It was, as Sir David Beatty tells us, a. fine 



afternoon, with a light wind from the south- 
east, the sea calm, and the visibility — that is to 
say, the range of vision — fairly good. At 
about 2.30 the satellites of the two bodies 
sighted one another. Some Dutch fishermen 
who were present, described this first meeting 
of the light cruisers which were thrown out 
before the battle-cruiser squadrons. 

Now it was that there occurred one of 
those incidents which illustrate the change 
in the conduct of sea fighting. Whether the 

master G. S. Trewin, as observer, quickly recon- 
noitred to the cast -north-east : 

Owing to clouds it was necessary to fly very low, and 
in order to identify four enemy light cruisers the sea- 
plane had to fly at a height of 900 ft. within 3,000 yards 
of thern, the light cruisers opening fire on her with 
every gun that would bear 

The information obtained in this way indicated 
the value of such observations. It may be 
remarked, however, that in clear weather, and 
under favourable conditions, observations might 
be made from Zeppelins for far greater dis- 

K.C.B, C.V.O., Chief of Staff. 

Germans were accompanied by Zeppelin scouts 
remains uncertain. It was suggested that 
they might have been present, because of 
the reference in the official German version 
of the battle to observations which were 
indubitably reliable, and because the Danish 
fishermen reported that they saw two airships 
near the coast of Denmark. But the British 
certainly made use of an air scout, for on a 
report from the Galatea, Commodore E. S. 
Alexander-Sinclair, who with the First Light 
Cruiser Squadron was scouting to the east- 
ward, Sir David Beatty ordered a seaplane 
to be sent up from the Engadine, Lieut. -Com. 
C. G. Robinson, and this machine, with Flight- 
Lieut. F. J. Rutland as pilot, and Asst.-Pay- 


. Aim 


W ■ ' 

W j&*r^ 

.,vvK.'v<'^R8S ; „ _*_i«I^*I^^S 




i f % 



"Iron Duke," Captain of the Fleet. 

tances. It has been calculated that the radius 
of vision of observers in these airships at 
10,000 feet is about 90 miles. As the distance 
by which the battle-cruiser squadrons on either 
side were separated frcm their main bodies 
could not have been more than 40 or 50 miles 
at the most, a Zeppelin at the above-named 
height should have been able, on a clear after- 
noon, to have seen both the approaching battle 
squadrons There was nothing, however, to 
indicate that this knowledge was available to 
either fleet. 

The admirals commanding the battle-cruiser 
squadrons became aware of the proximity and 
of the strength of one another at about th6 
same time. Their proceedings illustrated one 



Officially admitted to have 

■of the functions such vessels are built to per- 
form. The purpose of the battle-cruiser was 
twofold. It was to be a commerce protector, 
its speed and weight of armament enabling 
it to catch and overwhelm sea wolves preying 
on the trade, as was shown by Vice-Admiral 
Sturdee's victory at the action off the Falkland 
Islands. Its other purpose was to push home 
a reconnaissance — to sweep away the protecting 
-screen scouting for the enemy, and again by 
its speed and power to get near enough to 
find out the composition of the approaching 
foe. In this instance, Vice-Admiral Hipper, 
■discovering his force to be inferior to that of 
his opponent, promptly turned to retire on . 
liis main body. Sir David Beatty, not yet 
aware whether there was any main body 
behind Hipper, altered course and proceeded 
-at full speed in a direction which would enable 
him to make the discovery or to cut off the 
•enemy cruisers from their base. There was, 
therefore, no . question of undue risk. Sir 

been sunk in the battle. 

David Beatty, with superior force, was carry- 
ing out the primary purpose for which his 
vessels had been created. It is true that 
while he was steaming awaj' from his main 
forces, Hipper was steaming towards his 
friends ; but it should be noted that although 
the distance in the latter case was decreasing 
at the rate of the combined speeds of the 
squadrons, the distance between Sir David 
and the British battle fleet was only increasing 
by the difference in the speeds of the two 
bodies. The first stage of the battle, then, 
took on a similar form to that of the action 
off the Dogger Bank on January 24, 1915. 
Hipper's five battle-cruisers were flying back 
to the south-east, from which direction von 
Scheer was advancing, while the six heavier 
and more powerful British vessels were in 
chase. The latter, moreover, were supported 
by the four ships of the Fifth Battle Squadron 
under Rear-Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas, be- 
tween five and six miles to the north-westward. 

Officially admitted to have been sunk by a torpedo on the night of May 31. 



Summing up the position at this stage, Sir 
David Beatty said : " The visibility at this 
time was good, the sun behind us and the 
wind south-east. Being between the enemy 
and his base, our situation was both tactically 
and strategically pood." 

At 3.48 p.m. the opposed forces had closed 
to a range of about 18,500 yards, and the action 
began. Both sides opened fire practically 
simultaneously, steaming on parallel lines. It 
was a little later that there occurred one of 
those catastrophic strokes of fortune which 
have been made possible by the tremendous 
power locked up in the modern engines of 
battle. The ships on both sides were vigorously 
engaged, when suddenly a heavy explosion 
was caused in the last ship of the British line, 
the Indefatigable. A black column of smoke 
400 feet high shot upwards, said the German 
account, hiding the ship, and when it cleared 
away a little later the cruiser had disappeared. 
Out of her ship's company of about 900 officers 
and men, only two are believed to have sur- 
vived. The fighting, we are told, was of a 
very fierce and resolute character, and as the 
good marksmanship of the British vessels 
began to tell, the accuracy and rapidity of 
that of the enemy depreciated. The Fifth 
Battle Squadron, too, had come into action, 
and opened fire at a range of 20,000 yards 
upon the enemy's rear ships. At 4.18 the 
third ship in the enemy's line was seen to be 
on fire, but soon afterwards another tragic 
misfortune befell the British squadron. The 
magnificent battle-cruiser Queen Mary was 
vitally hit, and with a terrific explosion, 
which appeared to blow her hull asunder, also 
disappeared. The loss of life in her case was 
terrible also, for she had at least 1,000 people 
in her, and only about a score were saved. 
In modern warfare seamen have to face perils 
unknown to their predecessors, for in the old 
wars ships were more often captured than 
sunk. Now the sacrifice is demanded with 
awful suddenness, and in a moment the whole 
of a ship's company may be added to the list 
of those brave men who have died at their 
post of duty. 

It was in this run to the southward that the 
German gunners displayed their best qualities. 
The manner in which they concentrated the 
fire of several ships and bunched their salvoes 
on an object was remarkable. With regard 
to the loss of Beatty's two cruisers, an officer 
of one of the larger vessels gave in the Daily 

Mail what appeared to be a possible explana- 
tion. He said : 

They were purely chance shots which brought about 
their destruction. The armour would have withstood 
any amount of shell -fire. 

Under the deadly hail from the British ships, 
however, the quality of the German gimnery 
fell off, and their fire became far less effective, 
whereas the result of that from Beatty's ships 
became more marked every moment. For 
an hour all but six minutes the engagement 
continued to the southward, when the enemy's 
battle fleet, in three divisions, was sighted by 
the Southampton, Commodore W. E. Good- 
enough, and reported to the Vice-Admiral. 
Thereupon Sir David Beatty, having attained 
one purpose, proceeded to carry out another. 
He had driven in, by superior force, the enemy's 
advance guard, and had discovered the compo- 
sition and direction of their main force. At 
the same time, he had prevented the enemy's 
scouts from approaching his own main body 
in order to obtain similar information. This 
was not falling into a trap, but, if trap there 
was, he now set it. Turning his squadron 
round — the ships altering course in succession 
to starboard — he proceeded northwards to lead 
the enemy towards his own battle fleet. The 
Fifth Battle Squadron, following in his wake, 
but more to the southward, came into action 
with the van of the enemy's battle fleet, which 
Admiral Hipper, who had also turned, was 
now leading on a parallel course to the British 
squadron's. Possibly the Germans assumed 
that Beatty and Thomas were unsupported, 
and that the odds now in his favour offered 
von Scheer the opportunity for which he had 
been looking. If so, he was to be disillusioned. 
Thus ended the first stage of the contest. 

With the second stage there came about a 
change in the conditions of light and visibility. 
The British ships were silhouetted against a 
clear horizon to the westward, with the setting 
sun behind them, while the enemy, obscured in 
an increasing veil of mist, presented very indis- 
tinct outlines. It says a good deal for British 
moral and marksmanship that, despite these 
disadvantages, during the northward run " the 
enemy received very severe punishment, and 
one of their battle -cruisers quitted the line in a 
considerably damaged condition." Other of the 
ships also showed signs of increasing injury. 
Beatty's battle-cruisers had been reduced to 
four, and at an interval behind them were the 
four fast battleships of the Queen Elizabeth 



After being engaged about ten minutes, the British destroyer 
was struck by two torpedoes, which sank her almost at once. 
But before she settled down the "Shark" fired her last 
available torpedo. The portrait is of Loftus W. Jones, 
Commander of the "Shark," who was killed in action. 



type, the latter being engaged not only with 

Hipper's force but with that of von Sehecr as 

well. The range between the two lines was st ill 

about 14,000 yards. An officer in Admiral 

Evan-Thomas's squadron wrote : 

Wo were at this time receiving a very heavy fire 
indeed, our own battle-cruisers having become dis- 
engaged for twenty minutes to half an hour, so that the 
fire of tho whole German Fleet was concentrated on us. 
Especially unpleasant was a period of half an hour, 
during which we were unable to see the enemy, while 
they could see us clearly. Thus we were unable to fire 
a shot, and had to rest content, with steaming through 
a tornado of shell-fire without loosing off a gun, which 
was somewhat trying. 

It should be borne in mind, however, that at 
this time Beatty was getting into a position to 
hustle the Germans over to the eastward, and 
towards the Danish shore, while help was coming 
to the sorely tried British force at the rate of 
the combined speeds of the British battle fleet 
and the contending forces moving to the 
northward. That no serious loss occurred on the 
British side during tliis, the most critical, phase 
of the battle, testified alike to the splendid 
handling of the ships and the excellence of the 
material and workmanship put into their 

The third stage of the engagement was intro- 
duced by the arrival of the British battle fleet. 
Its j^roximity had already been notified to Sir 
David Beatty, the speed of whose ships had 
enabled him to draw considerably ahead of the 
German line, giving him the advantage of' 
position, and he now turned to the north- 
eastward, crossing, as it were, ahead of them, 
and, as he says, crumpling up their leading 
ships. He notes that only three of their battle- 

cruisers were at this time in sight, closely 
followed by battleships of the Konig class. 
They were already turning to the eastward, 
partly because of Beatty's action, but possibly 
also because they had realized what they were 
in for. It has been suggested that it was now 
that von Scheer ordered tho pre-Dreadnought 
ships to make the best of their way home. 
Anyway, none of them appears to have taken 
a part in the subsequent daylight fighting, as 
should otherwise have been the case had they 
retained their position as the rear division of 
the German line. 

When, at 5.56, the flagsliips of the British 
battle squadrons were seen bearing north, 
distant five miles, Beatty altered course to the 
east, bringing the range down to 12,000 yards, 
and proceeded at his utmost speed. The object 
of this movement was to give room for Sir John 
Jellicoe's force to deploy — that is, to open out 
and extend his divisions from column into line 
so as to come into action astern of the battle- 
cruisers. The second purpose of Admiral 
3eatty had been attained. As the Commander- 
in-Chief, in a deservedly eulogistic passage in 
his dispatch, said : 

The junction of the Battle Fleet with the scouting 
force after the enemy had been sighted was delayed 
owing to the southerly course steered by our advanced 
force during the first hour after commencing their 
action with the enemy battle-cruisers. This was, of 
course, unavoidable, as had our battle-cruisers not 
followed the enemy to the southward the main fleets 
would never have been in contact. The Battle-Cruiser 
Fleet, gallantly led by Vice-Admiral Sir David Beatty, 
and admirably supported by the ships of the Fifth 
Battle Squadron under Rear-Admiral Hugh Evan- 
Thomas, fought an action under, at times, disadvantageous 
conditions, especially in regard to light, in a manner 





Shell-holes in the side of a British warship. Th 
shell-hole on the left is stopped up with bedding 

that was in keeping with the beat traditions of t! 

Before describing the way in which the 

German High Sea Fleet was brought to action 

by the British battle squadrons, it will make the 

narrative more clear if the subsequent mo vet 

ments of the force under Sir David Beatty are 

first dealt with. Continuing his course to the 

eastward, at 0.20 tho Third Battle-Cruiser 

Squadron, commanded by Rear-Admiral the 

Hon. H. L. A. Hood, which had been ordered to 

reinforce him, appeared ahead, steaming south 

towards the enemy's van. Sir David reports : 

I ordered them to take station ahead, which was 
carried out magnificently, Rear-Adrairal Hood bringing 
his squadron into action in a most inspiring manner, 
worthy of his great naval ancestors. 

It was at this stage of the battle that, as the 
Germans themselves admitted, the increasing 
mist, particularly in the north and north-east, 
made itself most unpleasantly felt. Hood, 
advancing at great speed, to carry out the 
operation described by Sir David Beatty, swung 
across hi front of the battle-cruisers, and in the 
mist ran on to within 8,000 yards of the German 

line. What followed is thus described by a 
spectator : 

The Invincible, which had sunk a German light 
cruiser at 5.45 p.m., after an action lasting five minutes 
tackled a vessel of the Derfflinger class. The German 
ship was hit by the first salvo, and was getting several 
knocks to every one she got home on the Invincible, 
when the shell camo that sank the Invincible. There 
were only six survivors, and when they came op they 
witnessed the extraordinary spectacle of both the bow 
and stern of their ship standing vertically 50 ft. out of 
the water. 



As soon as Sir David Beatty realized what was 
happening he altered course in support of the 
Third Battle-Cruiser Squadron, and directed its 
two remaining vessels to take station astern of 
his squadron and to prolong the line. This was 
the first occasion on which any of the battle- 
cruisers engaged at less than 12,000 yards, and 
Beatty was affording succour to his consorts of 
Admiral Hood's division. The Invincible was 
sunk, as the Indefatigable and Queen Mary had 
been, in action with other battle-cruisers, and 
there is no evidence in the dispatches that up 
to this moment our battle-cruisers had been 
in action with battleships. Any suggestions, 
therefore, that undue risks were taken in regard 
to range, or by the engagement of battleships 
by battle-cruisers, are unsupported by the 
facts. Nor does the action necessarily show 
that battle-cruisers cannot fight battleships. 
Later on, when the German battleships were 
engaged by vessels of other types, they were 
admittedly showing signs of demoraliza- 
tion, which had all the disturbing effect of 

The visibility at 6.50 was not more than four 
miles, and soon after the enemy's ships were 
temporarily lost sight of. Sir David continued 
his course to the eastward until 7 o'clock, when 
he gradually altered course to the south and 
west in order to regain touch with the enemy. 
Twice more he was in action, and now with 
battleships as well as battle-cruisers, at ranges 
of 15,000 and 10,000 yards respectively. Both 
times his gunners got home on these retreating 
vessels. On the last occasion the leading ship, 
after being repeatedly hit by the Lion, turned 
away eight points, emitting high flames, and 
with a heavy list to port. The Princess Royal 
set fire to a three-funnelled battleship, and the 
New Zealand and Indomitable reported that 
the third ship hauled out of the line, heeling 
over and on fire. Then the mist came down 
again and enveloped them, and the battle- 
cruisers' part in the engagement ceased. If any 
vindication of the tactical ability of the Vice- 
Admiral Commanding the Battle-Cruiser Fleet, 
or the brilliant manner in which he carried out 
the duties entrusted to him, was required, it 
may surely be found in the appreciation and 
approval of his work and talents by Admiral 
Sir John Jellicoe : 

Sir David Beatty once again showed his fine qualities 
of gallant leadership, firm determination, and correct 
strategic insight. He appreciated the situations at 
once on sighting first the enemy's lighter forces, then 
his battle-cruisers, and finally his battle fleet. I can 

fully sympathize with his feelings when the evening 
mist and fading light robbed the Fleet of that complete 
victory for which he had manoeuvred, and for which 
the vessels in company with him had striven so hard. 
The services rendered by him, not only on this, but on 
two previous occasions, have been of the very greatest 

There remains to describe the concluding 
phase of the daylight engagement — that between 
the battle squadrons. It was, however, a 
very one-sided affair, because as soon as von 
Scheer recognized what he was up against he 
turned to the southward, and, under cover of 
the declining daylight, the thickening mist, 
and smoke-clouds from his small craft, with- 
drew from the fight. Before he could get 
away, however, the three squadrons of the 
Battle Fleet formed in a single line were hurled 
across his van, and under a paralysing fire 
from the British 13"5-in. guns the German 
formation was shattered and the ships them- 
selves very severely mauled. It was the 
supreme moment, leading to the climax of the 
whole battle, when Sir John Jellicoe brought 
his magnificent Dreadnoughts at their top 
speed into the melee. The situation called 
for the highest tactical skill, calm judgment, 
aid instant and unerring decision on the part 
of the Commander-in-Chief. His own account 
of this important phase is singularly brief and 
modest. " I formed the Battle Fleet in line 
of battle on receipt of Sir David Beatty's 
report, and during deployment the fleets 
became engaged." Picture the circumstances. 
Flashes of guns were visible through the haze, 
but no ship could be clearly distinguished. 
Even the position of the enemy's battleships 
could not always be determined. So thick 
was it, in fact, that great care was essential 
to prevent the British ships being mistaken 
for enemy vessels. The conditions were cer- 
tainly unparalleled. Yet, without a moment's 
hesitation, Sir John Jellicoe, with cool courage, 
delivered a vigorous and decisive thrust which 
threw the enemy into confusion and completed 
their discomfiture. After this, all their tactics 
were of a nature to avoid further action. How 
they extricated themselves was not made clear. 
The fighting between the big ships lasted inter- 
mittently for two hours more. It developed 
into a chase. " During the somewhat brii f 
periods," says Sir John, " in which the ships 
of the High Sea Fleet were visible through the 
mist, the heavy and effective fire kept up by 
the battleships and battle -cruisers of the Grand 
Fleet caused me much satisfaction, and the 
enemy's vessels were seen to be constantly hit, 



Second in-Comman J, Second Battle Squadron. gecond-in-Command. Fourth Battle 




Commanded the Second nettle Squadron. 

Second-in-Command. First Battle Squadron. 

Photos by Russell, Elliott & Fry, Lafayette, VBstrange 

Commanded the Fifth Battle-Squadron. 



some being obliged to haul out of the line, and 
at least one to sink. The enemy's return fire 
at this period was not effective, and the damage 
caused to our ships was insignificant." 

The story would not be complete without 
some account of the operations of the light- 
cruiser squadrons and destroyer flotillas. It 
was here that the changes in the conduct of 
sea fighting since the last time the British 
Navy was engaged in a fleet action were most 
clearly marked. In the old wars, over a 
hundred years ago, ships of the line of battle, 
unless incensed by some openly offensive act, 
scorned to throw away ammunition on a frigate 
or a sloop, and these vessels were left to fight 
duels with others of their own class. This has 
been entirely altered by the introduction of 
the torpedo, and now the smallest boat thus 
armed may become a formidable antagonist 
to the biggest Dreadnought. The light craft, 
therefore, which enter the field of a fleet action 
must expect a hostile reception if they come 
within range of any enemy ship. The lighter 
craft, however, whether cruisers or destroyers, 
cooperated with their heavier comrades of the 
line, and engaged with intrepidity and daring. 
The skilful way in which every type of vessel 
was used to assist the others bears witness to 
the development of fleet organization in 
accordance with modern demands. Sir David 
Beatty testified to the value of the light 
cruisers. " They very effectively protected 
the head of our line from torpedo attack by 
light cruisers or destroyers, and were prompt 
in helping to regain touch when the enemy's 
line was temporarily lost sight of." No higher 
praise could be given to the destroyer flotillas 
than that of Sir John Jellicoe. " They sur- 
passed the very highest expectations that I 
had formed of them." 

Although with grim determination and 
resolute bravery the small craft threw them- 
selves into the fight, no light cruiser was lost, 
and only eight destroyers were sunk. It may 
be described as a conflict between egg-shells 
and sledge-hammers, but the egg-shells did not 
often get the worst of it. Very many ships 
were reported to have been seriously damaged 
by our torpedo attacks. Three times the light 
cruiser squadrons, carrying no heavier gun than 
a 6-in., and relying for protection on their 
own rapidity of fire and movement, attacked 
armoured ships. The dispatches contain many 
instances of individual heroism and devotion 
to duty on the part of those in the destroyers, 

and these are only typical of many brilliant' 
feats which, under the conditions of the battle, 
were unseen and unrecorded officially. Then 
there is the tragic episode of the destruction 
of Sir Robert Arbuthnot's squadron. At 6.1G 
the Defence and Warrior of this squadron, 
which had gone into action ahead of the British 
Battle Fleet, were observed passing down 
between the engaged lines under a very heavy 
fire. The Defence, flying Rear-Admiral 
Arbuthnot's flag, disappeared, and the Warrior 
passed to the rear disabled. They had only 
a short time before been observed in action 
with an enemy light cruiser, which was sub- 
sequently seen to sink. 
Says Sir John Jellicoe : 

It is probable that Sir Robert Arbuthnot, during his 
engagement with the enemy's light cruisers and in his 
desire to complete their destruction, was not aware of 
the approach of the enemy's heavy ships, owing to the 
mist, nntil he found himself in close proximity to the 
main fleet, and before ho could withdraw his ships 
they were caught under a heavy fire and disabled. 

It is not known when the Black Prince, of 
the same squadron, was sunk, but a wireless 
signal was received from her between eight and 
nine p.m. The ships' companies of both the 
Defence and Black Prince were lost, but that 
of the Warrior, as mentioned elsewhere, was. 
saved by the Engadine. 

The dispositions of the Commander-in-Chief 
after nightfall recalled the methods of Togo 
when he lost sight of the remnants of Rozh- 
destvensky's fleet after Tsushima. Realizing 
that Admiral Niebogatoff would make for 
Vladivostok, Togo headed in the same direction, 
and, as is known, found him the next morning 
and accepted his surrender. Sir John Jellicoe- 
manoeuvred to remain between the enemy and 
his bases, placing his destroyers in a position 
where they would afford protection to the 
larger ships and also be favourably situated 
for attacking those of the enemy. As it turned 
out, while a heavy toll of the German vessels 
was taken, not a single ship was touched in 
the British line. The Fourth, Eleventh and 
Twelfth Flotillas, under Commodore J. R. P.. 
Hawksley and Captains C. J. Wintour and 
A. J. B. Stirling, are mentioned by Sir John 
Jellicoe as having " delivered a series of very 
gallant and successful attacks on the enemy,, 
causing him heavy losses." The Twelfth 
Flotilla attacked a squadron consisting of six 
large vessels, including some of the Kaiser class, 
which was entirely taken by surprise. " A 
large number of torpedoes was fired, including. 



some at the second and third ships in the line ; 
those fired at the third ship took effect, and she 
was observed to blow up." 

Jellicoe, however, was not to experience the 
good fortune of Togo, for under cover of the 
darkness of the night, and the thickness of 
the weather, Vice-Admiral Scheer, with his 
battered ships, was able to escape. It was not 
until the following day, after the whole of the 
large area covered by the fight had been 
thoroughly searched, without a trace of the 
enemy being seen, that the British Commander- 
in-Chief returned to his'bases to refuel and refill 
his magazines. As was officially stated, he 
was ready again within a very few hours to 
put to sea. 

interviews with a large number of these officers. 
Sir John Jellicoe compiled a list of the German 
losses, to which reference will be made later. 
With the British losses, of course, there was no 
uncertainty whatever, for at the earliest 
opportunity the Admiralty published them in 
full, in contrast to the policy of the German 
Navy Office, which aimed at concealment as 
far as possible, only revealing the destruction 
of those ships whose loss for various reasons 
had already become known to a number of 

Of the three battle-cruisers and three ar- 
moured cruisers sunk on the British side, the 
Indefatigable, Captain C. F. Sowerby, was the 
first to be destroyed, followed about twenty 


Commanded the Third Light-Cruiser Squadron. 

The circumstances of the weather which 
obtained on the afternoon of May 31, and the 
approach of night soon after the main battle 
was joined, made it difficult to obtain exact 
information as to the losses inflicted on the 
enemy. As Sir John Jellicoe says, owing prin- 
cipally to the mist, but partly to the smoke, it 
was possible to see only a few ships at a time 
in the enemy's battle line. 

" The conditions of low visibility," he wrote in his 
dispatch, " under which the day action took place and 
the approach of darkness enhance the difficulty. of giving 
»n accurate report of the damage inflicted or the names 
»f the ships sunk by our forces." 

After a most careful examination of the 

evidence of all officers who testified to seeing 

enemy vessels actually sink, and personal 



Commanded the Second Cruiser Squadron. 

minutes later by the Queen Mary, Captain 
C. I. Prowse. It was s*t a later stage that the 
third battle-cruiser, the Invincible, Captain 
A. L. Cay, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral the 
Hon. H. L. A. Hood, and the armoured cruisers 
Defence, Captain S. V. Ellis, flying the flag ol 
Rear-Admiral Sir Robert Arbuthnot, Black 
Prince, Captain T. P. Bonham, and Warrior, 
Captain V. B. Molteno, were sunk or disabled. 
Sir John Jellicoe records at the end of his 
dispatch how " the hardest fighting fell to the 
lot of the Battle-Cruiser Fleet (the units of 
which were less heavily armoured than their 
opponents), the Fifth Battle Squadron, the 
First Cruiser Squadron, Fourth Light Cruiser 
Squadron, and the Flotillas." Of these forces 




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h : 
< -i 

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< t 

Z >. 


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Z 3" 

S 5 

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z - 

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the Battle-Cruiser Fleet under Sir David Beatty, 
and First Cruiser Squadron under Rear-Admiral 
Arbuthnot, each lost three units, as has been 
shown, but the Fifth Battle Squadron, com- 
manded by Rear-Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas, 
and Fourth Light Cruiser Squadron (Commo- 
dore C. E. Le Mesurier), escaped without loss, 
no battleships or light cruisers being sunk at all 
on the British side. The destroyers sunk were 
eight in number — the Tipperary, Ardent, 
Fortune, Shark, Sparrowhawk, Nestor, Nomad, 
and Turbulent. In the first-named vessel, 
Captain C. J. Wintour, commanding the Fourth 
Flotilla, which, said Sir John Jellicoe, he had 
brought to a high pitch of perfection, lost his 

The foregoing was the complete toll paid by 
the British Fleet in driving back the Germans 
into their ports. It was added to by the 
enemy, sometimes liberally, with the intention 
of supporting their claim to a " victory," but 
the Admiralty on more than one occasion 
definitely denied these new claims from Berlin. 
One of the most persistent of the latter related 
to the battleship Warspite, Captain E. M. Phill- 
potts, which was declared to have been sunk. 
In spite of the fact that the Admiralty issued a 
notice on June 4 saying : " This is untrue, that 
ship having returned to harbour," the allega- 
tion was repeated in an official communique from 
the German Fleet Command on the 6th, and 
again in the long official account published on 
June 8. On June 10, however, the Admiralty 
granted permission to a representative of the 
Associated Press of America to see Captain 
Phillpotts, who was full of praise for the 
conduct of his men in the battle and what he 
termed the amazing powers of resistance of 
his ship. He said : 

1 am not surprised that there have been reports that 
the Warspite was sunk, as from our position, between 
our Fleet and the German battleships, our escape from 
such a fate was simply miraculous. Several times 
we disappeared from sight in the smoke and spray. 

The Captain went on to explain that after 
two hours of action, in much of which the Fifth 
Battle Squadron, to which the Warspite 
belonged, engaged the whole German Battle 
Fleet in an effort to protect the British battle- 
cruisers until Admiral Jellicoe came up, the 
steering gear of the Warspite went wrong, and 
she ran amuck among the enemy. Some six 
German battleships concentrated their fire on 
her, but under a worse pounding than the Lion 
received in the Dogger Bank fight she remained 
in action without a single vital injury. An 

officer in another ship, describing the incident 
in a letter published in the newspapers, said : 

It was at this stage that, owing to some temporary 
defect, the Warspite's helm jammed, and she went 
straight at the enemy into a hell of fire. She looked a 
most wonderful sight, every gun firing for all it was 
worth in reply. Luckily, she got under control quickly, 
and returned to the line, and it was this incident which 
gave rise to the German legend that sho had been sunk, 

Sir John Jellicoe commended the Warspite's 
captain for his conduct at this trying moment. 
" Clever handling," said the Commander-in- 
Chief, " enabled Captain Edward M. Phillpotts 
to extricate his ship from a somewhat awkward 
situation." There was a rather amusing touch 
at the conclusion of the incident, for the captain 
told his interviewer that when the defect had 
been quickly repaired the Warspite wanted to 
return. But her previous movements had been 
so erratic that Captain Phillpotts and his crew 
found that they were not popular ! Sufficient 
battleships were present by this time to fill the 
line, and the possibility of the vessel's running 
amuck among her own friends was not wel- 
comed. So she steamed home. 

Other ships in the British Fleet suffered the 
same fate as the Warspite of being sunk on 
paper. In the official German accounts the 
battle-cruiser Princess P^oyal, the battleship 
Marlborough, the light cruiser Birmingham, 
and the destroyer Acasta were all consigned to 
their destruction in this manner, obliging the 
issue and repetition of a denial by the Admiralty. 
The cruiser Euryalus was also said to have been 
set on fire and completely burnt out, but, as 
the Admiralty stated, she was not even present 
in the battle. In the case of the Marlborough, 
Captain G. P. Ross, which flew the flag of Vice- 
Admiral Sir Cecil Burney, Commanding the 
First Battle Squadron (Second-in-Command of 
the Grand Fleet), there was some justification. 
At 6.54 p.m., after having been engaged with a 
battleship of the Kaiser class, and with a cruiser, 
and later still another battlesliip, this vessel 
was hit by a torpedo, and took up a considerable 
list to starboard. In spite of this misfortune, 
as the official dispatch states : 

She reopened at 7.3 p.m. at a cruiser, and at 7.12 p.m. 
fired fourteen rapid salvoes at a ship of the Konig class, 
hitting her frequently until she turned out of the line. 
The manner in which this effective fire was kept up in 
spite of the disadvantages due to the injury caused by 
the torpedo was most creditable to the ship, and a very 
fine example to the squadron. 

An eye-witness also said that the sight of the 
gunlayers in the Marlborough calmly and coolly 
serving their weapons while the vessel was 



damaged and in possible danger of sinking 
was a most inspiring one. It is significant that 
the Marlborough continued to perform her 
duties as flagship of the squadron until 2.30 a.m. 
next morning. Then, as she had some diffi- 
culty in keeping up the speed of the squadron, 
Sir Cecil Burney transferred his flag to the 
Revenge, and the Marlborough was detached 
by the direction of Admiral Jellicoe to a base, 
driving off a submarine en route. 

Unlike the British losses in the battle, which 
were known in full all over the world within 
a few hours of the end of the engagement, 
those of the German Fleet were only revealed 
in easy stages. In the first German report, 
circulated by wireless on June 1, they were 
alleged to include onlv three shins and " some 
torpedo boats." The communique said : 

On our side the small cruiser Wiesbaden was sunk 
by hostile artillery fire during the day engagements, 
and the Pommern during the night by a torpedo. The 
fate of the Frauenlob, which is missing, and of some 
torpedo boats which have not } T et returned, is unknown. 

In the second German official message, issued 
on June 3, the loss of the small cruiser Elbing 
(Captain Madlung) was added to the list. 
She was said to have been blown up by her own 
crew after being heavily damaged by collision 
with another German war vessel, which made 
it impossible to take her back to port. The 
crew were rescued by torpedo boats, with the 
exception of the commander, two officers and 
18 men, who remained on board in order to 
blow up the vessel, and who were brought to 
Ymuiden in a tug and landed there. Without 
a doubt, it was the presence of these survivors 
in Holland, reported in the Press, which induced 
the German Admiralty Staff to admit the 
destruction of the Elbing. According to some 
accounts, it was the Warrior which put the 
Elbing out of action. 

In a semi-official statement issued on the 
same day, the loss of the Frauenlob was 
accepted as a certainty, and the ship was said 
to have been sunk apparently during the 
night of May 31 in an individual action. The 
loss of five " large torpedo boats " was also 
admitted. On Sunday, June 4, a Berlin 
telegram, which attained added significance 
in the light of later events, was dispatched. 
" Contrary to the British Admiralty report," 
it said, "it is stated that no Gorman naval 
units were lost other than those mentioned in 
the official German communiqui." During 
the next week, however, on Wednesday, 
June 7, there was issued from the Marine-Amt 

a long account of the battle, and in it occurred 
the following passage : 

The total losses of the German High Sea forces during 
the battle of May 31 and Juno 1, and subsequently, are : 

One battle-cruiser. 

One ship of the line of older construction. 

Four small cruisers. 

Five torpedo boats. 

Of these losses, the Pommern, launched in 1905, the 
Wiesbaden, the Elbing, the Frauenlob, and five torpedo 
boats have already been reported sunk in official state- 
ments. For militarv reasons we refrained till now 
from making public the loss of the vessels Liltzow and 
Rostock. In view of the wrong interpretation of thia 
measure, and moreover in order to frustrate English 
legends about gigantio losses on our side, these reasons 
must now be dropped. Both vessels were lost on their 
way to harbour after attempts had failed to keep the 
heavily-damaged vessels afloat. The crews of both 
ships, including all severely wounded, are in safety. 

This was as far as the Germans went in 
regard to the admission of losses. In an 
enclosure to his dispatch, Sir John Jellicoe 
compiled a " list of enemy vessels put out of 
action," in regard to which he expressed the 
opinion that it gave the minimum in regard to 
numbers, although it was possibly not entirely 
accurate as regards the particular class of 
vessel, especially those which were sunk during 
the night attacks. In addition to the vessels 
sunk, added Sir John, it was unquestionable 
that many other ships were very seriously 
damaged by gunfire and by torpedo attack. 
In this connexion it has to be remembered 
that as the Germans fought nearer home than 
the British they had by far the greater chance 
of getting their damaged ships safe into port. 
They were only about 100 miles from the 
shelter of the Heligoland forts, and probably 
less from the minefields in the neighbourhood 
of the Bight, when the battle finished, whereas 
Sir John Jellicoe's bases were 400 miles away. 
The Warrior, after being disabled during the 
action, was towed by the Engadine for 75 
miles from 8.40 p.m. on May 31, all through the 
night, until 7.15 a.m. next morning, when she 
foundered. Had the conditions in this respect 
been equal, the British losses might have been 
less, or the Germans much higher, according 
to the position in which the battle was fought. 
It is fitting to note here, in passing, the tribute 
paid by Admiral Jellicoe to the artisan ratings 
in his Fleet. They " carried out much valuable 
work during and after the action," he said ; 
" they could not have done better." Doubt- 
less the hard and conscientious work of these 
men contributed largely to the speed with 
which the Fleet was made ready for sea again 
within a few hours. 




Commanded the Fourth Light-Cruiser Squadron. 

There were several ships in the German 
Fleet which were seen to have received severe 
punishment, making the chance of their 
getting back home a small one. As regards 
the battle-cruiser squadron a Dutch report 
stated that the Derfninger sank whilst being 
towed to Wilhelmshaven, and there was like- 
wise a doubt as to whether the Seydlitz, the 
stern of which vessel was stated to have been 
blown off, got into port. A large number 
of relatives of her crew, residing in Schleswig, 
were notified of casualties, although this was 
not in itself conclusive evidence that she had 
been destroyed. When the Liitzow was put 
out of action Admiral Hipper transferred his 


Commanded the First Cruiser Squadron. 

flag to the Moltke, which seems to have suffered 

the least of the battle-cruisers. Of other 

cruisers present on the German side, the Roon, 

an armoured vessel of an earlier class than the 

two sunk off the Falklands, was believed to 

have been sunk. A midshipman in the 

Marlborough wrote to his parents : 

I believe we torpedoed a cruiser which has not yet 
been claimed. We think it was the Roon, sister-ship 
to the Yorck. We absolutely did for her with gun-fire 
before we fired the torpedo. We could see right into 
her hull. She was a mass of flames inside and had 
lost a funnel. 

In the same way, so many British ships 
claimed to have disposed of light cruisers that 
the four in the German list must have been 


Commanded the First Light-Cruiser Squadron 


Commanded the Second Light-Cruiser Squadron. 




Commanded the destroyer " Nestor." 

an under-statement of losses in this class. 
The municipality of Frankfort opened a fund 
for the relief of relatives of the crew of the 
light cruiser named after the city. 

Then as regards their battle fleet, the Ger- 
mans only admitted the loss of one unit, the 
Pommern. Captain Btilcke, commanding this 
vessel, was among those who went down in her. 
The British official estimate, however, claimed 
four battleships, three of which were seen to 
sink. One of these may have been the, Ost- 
friesland, which Dutch accounts stated had 
been sunk. Her sister-ship, the Thiiringen, 
may have suffered a like fate, and sailors' caps 
bearing the name of tins vessel were found at 
sea by an Ymuiden trawler. Byway, doubtless, 
of contradicting the report of the loss of the 
Thiiringen, an article appeared in the Kreuz 
Zeilunrj at the end of June, purporting to be 
written by an officer of the ship, in which it 
was said that she was not touched. Tliree 
weeks earlier, on June 10, the German Admir- 
alty had allowed the publication of an account 
of the battle alleged to have come from a mid- 
shipman of the Ostfriesland, which was given a 
rather suspicious prominence in the German 
papers, and in which occurred the sentence : 

" The Ostfriesland did not receive a single 

In their revelation of the fine spirit shown by 

the officers and men of the Royal Navy, the 

details and incidents of the battle were most 

inspiring. The confidence which the whole 

Fleet had in its commanders, Sir John Jellicoe 

and Sir David Beatty, had never been excelled 

at any period in our naval history. Of the 

Commander-in-Chief, the Archbishop of York 

had written : 

I left the Grand Fleet sharing to the full the admira- 
tion, affection, and confidence which every officer 
and man within it feels for its Commander-in-Chief, 
Sir John Jellicoe. Here assuredly is the right man in 
the right place at the right time. His officers givo him 
the most absolute trust and loyalty. When I spoke of 
him to his men I always felt that quick response which, 
to a speaker, is the sure sign that he has reached and 
touched the hearts of his hearers. The Commander-in- 
Chief — quiet, modest, courteous, alert, resolute> holding 
in firm control every part of his great fighting engine — 
has under his command not only the ships, but the 
heart of his Fleet. 

As for the officers and their relations with 
one another, the Archbishop said he never 
heard one word of criticism, never felt the 
slightest breath of jealousy. In manner, in 
word, in spirit they justified the boast of one 
of the Vice-Admirals : " We are all a great 
band of brothers." 

As for Sir David Beatty, every incident in 
his career, and they had been both many and 
glorious, had pointed him out as one of the men 
to command the fleets of England if ever she 
was engaged in a great naval war. The affair 
in the Heligoland Bight, the action off the 
Dogger Bank, and other episodes had inspired 
feelings which were amply confirmed by the 
great action off the Jutland coast. What his 
men thought of him was well typified in the 
answer of a sailor who was asked, just after 
the battle, if the seamen had full confidence 
in their leader. " Confidence in David ? " he 
replied ; " why, we would all go to Hell for 

This implicit trust in the officers in command 
was reciprocated to the full. Sir John Jellicoe 
says in liis dispatch : 

The conduct of officers and men throughout the day 
and night actions was entirely beyond praise. No 
words of mine could do them justice. On all sides it is 
reported to me that the glorious traditions of the past 
were most worthily upheld — whether in heavy ships, 
cruisers, light cruisers, or destroyers — the same admirable 
spirit prevailed. Officers and men were cool and 
determined, with a cheeriness that would have carried 
them through anything. The heroism of the wounded 
was the admiration of all. I cannot adequately express 
the pride with which the spirit of the Fleet filled me. 



(Lieutenant-Commander C. W. E. Trelawny) torpedoing a German warship. 

Moreover the one thought in all ranks alter the enemy into the jaws of our Fleet. I have 

the contest was that it might be renewed and no regrets, excopt for the gallant comrades, all 

completed on a future occasion. Sir David pals, that have gone, who died gloriously. It 

Beattv in a message to Admiral of the Fleot would have warmed your heart to see the gallant 

the Hon. Sir Heclworth Meux, said : " We drew Hood bring his squadron into action. We are 




rea:ly for the next time. Please God it will 
coma soon." The officers' tributes to the con- 
duct of the men vie with those which the 
seamen paid to the leading and example of 
the officers. One officer, a lieutenant-com- 
mander in a vessel which got into action a 
little after 5 p.m. on the 31st, said in a letter : 
" I am very glad the men have had their 
baptism of fire. They were simply splendid. 
Everything went just as if we had been at 
target practice. Two young boys in an exposed 
position were extremely good. I do not think 
either of them is seventeen yet, but these boys 
never turned a hair." Sub-Lieutenant G. A. 
Nunneley, of the Warrior, testified, in a letter 
quoted in the Yorkshire Post, to the coolness 
of the men in that ship when she had been 
disabled. They did not see how they could 
possibly escape, as the Warrior was on fire 
amidships and aft, but " the spirit of the men 
and the heroism displayed were wonderful ; 
everybody was cheerful and nobody lost his 
head." This fine display of true discipline had 
its reward when the whole of the crew, in most 
difficult circumstances, were taken off by the 
seaplane carrier Engadine. It was during the 
transhipment, on the morning of June 1, that 
Lieutenant F. J. Rutland performed the gallant 
feat for which he received the Albert Medal of 
the First Class from the King. A severely 
wounded man from the Warrior, owing to the 

violent motion of the two ships, was accidentally 
dropped overboard from a stretcher and fell 
between the vessels, which were working so 
dangerously that the commanding officer of 
the Warrior had to forbid two of his officers 
from jumping overboard to the rescue of the 
wounded man, as it was considered that this 
would mean their almost certain death. Before 
he could be observed, however, Lieutenant 
Rutland went overboard from the forepart of 
the Engadine with a bowline, and worked 
himself aft. He succeeded in putting the bow- 
line around the wounded man, and in getting 
km hauled on board, but it was then found 
that the man was dead, having been crushed 
between the two ships. Lieutenant Rutland's 
escape from a similar fate was miraculous. 
" His bravery," as the official account of his 
gallant deed stated, "is reported to have been 
magnificent." He had already distinguished 
himself at the beginning of the battle by his 
work as pilot of the seaplane which, as indicated 
elsewhere, was sent up from the Engadine for 
scouting purposes. Lieutenant Rutland was one 
of the few officers in the battle who had been 
promoted from the lower deck. He was among 
the first group of candidates selected in 1912, in 
accordance with the new Admiralty scheme, to 
qualify for commissions, by courses of training 
at Greenwich and elsewhere, and by a period 
of service afloat in the grade of "mate.' Le 



■ G E R M AN 




eras appointed to torpedo boat No. 35 when 
war began, but in December, 1914, transferred 
to the Royal Naval Air Service as an acting 
flight sub -lieutenant, afterwards being promoted 
flight-lieutenant. The action of May 31 thus 
produced, as it were, the first-fruits of the 
decision, taken when Mr. Churchill was First 
Lord, to open the commissioned ranks of the 
Navy more widely to the petty officers and 

In a striking speech when introducing the 
Navy Estimates in the House of Commons on 
February 15, 1915, Mr. Churchill, after review- 
ing the salient features of the first six months 
of naval war, and the lessons of the victories 
off the Dogger Bank and the Falklands, said : 
" It is my duty in this House to speak for the 
Navy, and the truth is that it is sound as a 
bell all through. I do not care where or how 
it may be tested ; it will be found good and fit 
and keen and honest." Demonstration of the 
correctness of this estimate is to be found in 
the performances of all ranks and ratings in the 
Jutland Bank action, wherein the various 
branches of the Service vied with one another 
in efficiency. If two may specially be singled 
out where all did so well, it is the engineering 
and medical branches. The prelude to action, 
said Sir John Jellicoe, is the work of the engine- 
room department, and " during action the 
offioers and men of that department perform 

their most important duties without the in- 
centive which a knowledge of the course of the 
actions gives to those on deck. The qualities 
of discipline and endurance are taxed to the 
utmost under these conditions, and they were, 
as always, most fully maintained throughout 
the operations under review. Several ships 
attained speeds that had never before been 
reached, thus showing very clearly their high 
state of steaming efficiency. Failures in material 
were conspicuous by their absence, and several 
instances are reported of magnificent work on 
the part of the engine-room departments of 
injured ships." Most praiseworthy also was 
the devotion to duty of the surgeons. " The 
work of the medical officers of the Fleet," Sir 
John records, " carried out very largely under 
the most difficult conditions, was entirely 
admirable and invaluable. Lacking in many 
cases all the essentials for performing critical 
operations, and with their staff seriously de- 
pleted by casualties, they worked untiringly 
and with the greatest success. To them we 
owe a deep debt of gratitude." 

The confidence of the men in their officers 
was indicated in many ways ; and there are 
numerous letters and incidents which show how 
real and deep it was. Reference is made by 
Sir John Jellicoe to the fact that in the On- 
slaught, commanded by Lieutenant-Commander 
A. G. Onslow, D.S.C., Sub -Lieutenant H. W. A. 



Keramis, assisted by Midshipman R. G. Arnot, 
R.N.R. , who were the only executive officers 
not disabled, brought the ship successfully out 
of action and back to her home port. A stoker 
petty officer, in an interview, described how the 
Onslaught was swept pretty clean of everything, 
and on her way back could not get into touch 
by wireless, because both the operator and 
signaller had been killed. The bridge had been 

Of the " Chester.'' The boy, who was under 16^ 
years old, although mortally wounded, remained 
standing alone at a most exposed post, quietly 
awaiting orders till the end of the action, with 
the gun's crew dead and wounded around him. 
The gallant lad died from his wounds. 

carried away by a shell, and therefore the charts 
were gone, and so was the compass. He added : 
I would like to say something of Sub-Lieutenant 
Kemmis, who took us home. We had a rare time of it, 
because we had to pick our way as best we could, and 
there was the sub-lieutenant sticking to the wheel for 
over forty hours. He refused to be relieved. He kept 
on saying that the men had quite enough to do to look 
after themselves, and nobody was to bother about him. 
We thought a lot of him, I can tell you. 

Naturally, in the circumstances, the men in 
the destroyers had, if anything, an extra share 

of thrilling and trying experiences. The 
stubborn and splendid episode of the Shark, 
which went down righting to the very last, may 
be cited. She formed one of a small division, 
led by the Tipperary, which was caught and 
overwhelmed. With about half of the crew 
killed or disabled, the Shark continued to 
maintain the action with only one remaining 
gun. The captain, Commander L. W. Jones, 
is said to have had one of his legs shot away, 
but he continued the fight, and himself helped 
to serve the gun to the last, when he was swept 
into the sea as the vessel foitndered. Some 
survivors from the Shark sprang on to a raft, 
where they stayed for no less than five hours 
watching the battle. They kept their blood 
in circulation by jumping overboard and 
swimming round the raft, all doing this in turn 
and being hauled in afterwards by those on the 
raft. A similar experience was shared by the 
seamen from some of the larger ships. Com- 
mander Dannreuther, one of the six survivors of 
the Invincible, was shot into the sea when the 
battle-cruiser exploded, and went down 20 feet 
or 30 feet. Coming up, he found himself near 
a raft, and clambered on to it. In a few minutes 
he saw a broad, black, smiling face, covered 
with grease and soot and oil, appear at the side 
of the raft. " I'll bet that's Sandford," said 
Commander Dannreuther to the visitor. 
" An Irishman would be sure to smile after an 
experience like this." " You're right," replied 
Lieutenant C. S. Sandford, as he ,limbed on 
to the raft. Both were picked up half an hour 
later by a torpedo boat. It was of this handful 
of Invincible survivors that a midshipman 
related an incident which he said he should never 
forget, as it was the pluckiest thing he had ever 
seen. As the ship he was in steamed ahead 
into action, he saw four men on a raft, and at 
first thought they must be Germans. But as 
the ship passed by, " the four got up on their 
feet and cheered us like blazes. It was the 
finest thing I had ever seen." 

Three other destroyers of the same division 
as the Shark were the Ardent, Fortune and 
Sparrowhawk, and Sir John Jellicoe records 
that when the waters from the latitude of the 
Horn Reef to the scene of the action were 
thoroughly searched next morning, some 
survivors from each of these boats were picked 
up, and also from their flotilla leader, the 
Tipperary. The Sparrowhawk had been badly 
injured in collision, and was no longer sea- 
worthy, so she was sunk after her crew had been 



King George V. inspecting some of the seamen who 
during his visit to the Battle Cruiser Fleet, June 

taken off. A petty officer of Neath, who was 
in the Fortune, related how 23 men of that 
destroyer got on to a raft when she was sunk, 
15 minutes after going into action, but only 
seven of this number survived the terrors of 
the night. All the officers were lost. One of 
them clung to the rail until exhausted ; then 
his hold slipped, and he went down. It was the 
saddest sight of all, related this petty officer, to 
see comrades slipping off when those who 
remained alive were so numbed and cramped 
that they could give them no help. Yet, in spite 
of their sufferings, the men were amazingly 


fought in the battle. The King taking the salute 
, 1916. On the King's right is Admiral Beatty. 

cheerful ; and it was related by another petty 
officer how a seaman, who was the possessor of 
a good bass voice, helped to keep up the spirits 
of 26 other men from the Tipperary who were 
stranded on a raft by singing to them, even 
though he himself had been wounded in the leg 
and had had two of his fingers shot away. 
These men were afterwards rescued by the 
disabled Sparrowhawk, and had not been long 
in her when — insult added to injury ! — a 
German submarine appeared on the starboard 
quarter. But the two remaining gvms were 
quickly brought to bear on her, and she dived 



at once and made off. Besides the 27 men saved 
from this particular raft, there was a sub- 
lieutenant who was swimming alongside, with 
one hand clutching the ropes hanging around. 
He had been swimming thus for some hours, 
having refused to board the raft, as it might 
have capsized with his additional weight. In 
the end, he was in better condition than several 
of the men who were on board, many of whom 
suffered from the cold and exposure. When on 
board the Sparrowhawk, much amusement was 
caused by one survivor who, dressed only in a 
piece of serge round his loins, was anxiously 
drying a number of £1 Treasury notes which 
he had saved, explaining as he did so that he 
was to be married on his next leave. To his 
relief, the notes dried out all right, and then he 
was able to take an interest in his own miracu- 
lous escape. 

There was one episode which, more than 
any other, stirred the popular imagination 
when the official dispatches were published, 
and that was the deathless story of Boy 
Corn well, who remained at his post of duty 
to the end of the 6ght, faithful to the last, 
and then died of his wounds. Sir David 
Beatty says : 

A report from the Commanding Officer of the Chester 
gives a splendid instance of devotion to duty. Boy 
(1st class) John Travers Cornwell, of the Chester, was 
mortally wounded early in the action. He nevertheless 
remained standing alone at a most exposed post, quietly 
awaiting orders till the end of the action, with the 
guii's crew dead and wounded all round him. His age 
was under 161 years. I regret that he has since died, 
but I recommend his case for special recognition in justice 
to his memory, and as an acknowledgment of the high 
example set by him. 

The body of the brave lad was at first buried 

in a common grave, but on July 29, having 

been exhumed, it was reinterred with full 

naval honours in a private grave in Manor 

Park Cemetery, when the Bishop of Barking 

and Dr. Macnamara, the latter of whom was 

the bearer of a wreath from the Royal Navy, 

delivered eloquent tributes to CornweU's 

heroism. A movement for a national memorial 

was set on foot, in which the Navy League and 

Sir John Bethell, M.P., among others, were 

interested, to endow a ward for disabled 

sailors in the Star and Garter Home, to provide 

cottage homes for disabled and invalided sailors 

and their families, to institute naval scholar- 
ships for deserving boys, and to erect a suitable 
monument on the grave. 

It is unnecessary to emphasize the fact that 
the spirit which animated little Jack Cornwell 
was displayed in numerous other deeds of 
courage and valour on May 31, and it would be 
true to say that what he did so splendidly 
many others were ready to do if the need had 
arisen. One case of the kind was that of a 
commander, who, despite his wounds, con- 
tinued to issue orders, and remained in charge 
of the ship till she had finished fighting. When 
he reached port, this gallant officer, before 
allowing himself to be removed to hospital, 
insisted on bein, r taken round his ship to 
inspect the damage inflicted by the enemy's 
fire. Rather a touching narrative was told 
of the chaplain of another vessel, who, as he 
lay dying from a shattered spine and leg, prayed 
for victory for the British Fleet. 

Another incident among the many glorious 
and inspiring deeds on this memorable day is 
that of a very heroic action which affords an 
opportunity for giving to the gallant Corps of 
Royal Marines the praise which is its due. 
An officer of the corps is said, in his last moments 
when mortally wounded, to have used his 
remaining breath to issue instructions which 
prevented a catastrophe and possibly the loss 
of his ship. For obvious reasons, neither the 
name of the officer nor of the vessel were publicly 
disclosed, but at some later date the esteem and 
honour in which his memory is now held by his 
comrades and friends within the Service will 
also be accorded him by all his fellow-country- 

On this note the relation of the Battle of 
Jutland Bank may be concluded. The loss of 
life was indeed serious, both to the Navy and 
the country. Sir John Jellicoe, in his dispatch, 
pays a tribute to the officers and men whose 
death was mourned by their comrades in the 
Grand Fleet. " They fell," he added, " doing 
their duty nobly, a death which they would 
have been the first to desire." The sorrow 
which the Navy felt at the loss in action of so 
many gallant seamen was fully shared by the 


AND JUNE, 1 916. 

Desultory Warfare in May — Poison Gas and its Uses — The Anzacs in France — Analysis 
of the Fighting — A Third Battle of Yr-RES — The German Attack — The Canadian Counter- 
Attack between Hill 60 and Hooge — The Southern End of the British Line — A Series of 
Raid.-' — Eve of the Great Franco-British Offensive on the Somme. 

FROM the end of April until the begin- 
ning of the Franco -British offensive 
on July 1 the warfare on the Western 
front partook of the same character 
is that described in Chapter CXXXVI. ; that 
is to say, the fighting was continuous, but 
yielded no important results. 

On May 2 the Germans delivered one of 
those assaults in the Verdun region, west of 
the Meuse, which had now become routine, 
and, as usual, without any practical gain : 
there were also encounters in the Argonne. 
Thus affairs went on from day to day. until 
the 8 th, when a bombardment of great violence 
was directed against Avocourt Wood and the 
region round about it. A German infantry 
attack, which followed the fire, was brought to 
a standstill by the French curtain fire and that 
of their machine-guns. 

On the 11th, in the Champagne region, the 
French demolished a Geiman trench for a 
length of 100 yards near Tahure, otherwise 
there was comparative calm along the whole 
front except north-east of Vermelles, where the 
enemy seized about 500 yards of the British 
front trenches. Part of the lost ground was, 
however, quickly regained by a counter-attack. 
It was the first endeavour that the Germans 
had made on this part of the British line since 
April 26-29. 

A heavy bombardment during the night of 
May 12-13, between the river Somme and 
Vol. IX.— Part 109. 

Maricourt, was followed by a German attack 
in three columns, of which one only succeeded 
in penetrating our line, and even this was at 
once driven out again. In the neighbourhood 
of Ploegsteert Wood the enemy attacked our 
lines, and here also he succeeded in penetrating 
at one point, but was rapidly expelled. At 
another his troops were met on the parapet 
by some of the Scots and forced to retire in 

This, from the German point of view, highly 
irregular proceeding on the part of our men 
came as a great surprise to the enemy, who 
did not think that after the severe artillery 
fire they would be equal to any such resistance. 
< Jenerally along the line there was considerable 
artillery activity, but very little else to note. 
Mining operations were also carried on. 

An ordinary day at the front was somewhat 
as follows : What our men called the " morning 
strafe" (one side might commence it or the 
other) was followed by the ascent of observation 
balloons and aeroplanes scouting to ascertain 
what was going on behind the enemy's front 
line, taking photographs of his works or disturb- 
ing his movements. When the enemy's aero- 
planes were noted in the air the anti-aircraft 
guns got to work at them. In the middle of 
the day there was sometimes a lull for dinners, 
and later on the fire would begin again. In 
the course of the night the enemy sometimes 
attempted to raid our lines, and we did the 

Hi I 



same with his. These incursions were made 
either for the purpose of gaining information 
or in order to keep the other side alarmed and 
induee the belief that a larger attack was immi- 
nent. There were always patrols to send out to 
reconnoitre over " No-Man's Land," and some- 
times covering parties were pushed on ahead of 
our trenches to cover the working parties, 
both dangerous duties.* Again, when it was 
ascertained, or surmised, that there was a con- 
siderable accumulation of German troops 
opposite a British trench, a heavy artillery fire 
would be brought to bear to make them keep 
close under cover. Then the guns would 
suddenly lift their fire, and a bombing party, 
rushing over the intervening distance of " No- 
Man's Land," would hurl death and destruction 
among them. In addition to all this there was 
the usual repair work to be executed, both on 
the trenches and on the wire entanglements. 

When a raid was determined on from either 
side the artillery set to work to prepare the 
way, that is to say, it smashed as much as 
possible the enemy's entanglements which 
protected the part selected for attack When 
the destruction was deemed sufficient, and as 
the points where raids were made were not far 

'""No-Man's Land" was the name given to the 
dividing space between the opposing trenches. 

distant from the assaulting side's trenches, 
the attacking infantry advanced to the assault. 
The guns then turned their energies to making 
a curtain fire behind the selected part to prevent 
the enemy sending up supports to it. The 
opponents meanwhile were engaged in much 
the same manner, endeavouring to stop the 
assault, or, if they could not do this, in throwing 
a barrier of their shell-fire behind the attacking 
party to prevent reinforcements reacliing it. 

This procedure caused a considerable loss 
of men to both sides, as the lists of casualties 
issued from time to time showed. From our 
point of view the results obtained were com- 
mensurate. We wanted detail knowledge of 
the enemy's works so as to make proper plans 
for the grand advance which was to be made 
at the right and proper time. 

Tlvroughout the operations since the Second 
Battle of Ypres the Germans had made use of 
all their brutal auxiliary weapons — poison gas, 
lachrymatory shells and flame jets. When 
gas had been used at Ypres it came as a 
surprise and. enabled the enemy to gain some 
success, but it soon becams only a small factor 
in warfare, and for all the good it did might 
have been withdrawn. We were fully armed 
against it. Every man carried a helmet which 
filtered out the noxious gas and enabled him 

Bursting behind the British lines. 



Circle picture : British troops stacking wire. 

to breathe the air, which, passing through the 
chemicals, was rendered fit for human respira- 

One of the latest developments was the 
introduction of " stink " gas, so called from its 
disagreeable odour, but not in itself danger- 
ous. This was sometimes mixed with poison 
gas. Until this little dodge of the gentle German 
was understood many accidents occurred to our 
men. They were apt to remove their protected 
helmets on account of the smell which pene- 
trated through them and then fell victims to 
the poison. The lachrymatory shells, as their 
name implies, produced a copious flow of tears. 
To guard against this goggles were introduced 

* Originally, chlorine was the gas the Germans made 
use of, but others were subsequently employed. Chlorine 
produced the long and agonising death that was so 
common with our men when first they met it. Later it 
had become possible to treat all but the very bad cases 
and to nurse them back to health. Some of the later 
kinds of gases employed were more subtle in their action, 
and while not instantly incapacitating, had the property 
of developing acute illness. The gases were kept under 
pressure in steel cylinders, and let out when the wind 
was favourable and blew towards the Allied trenches. 

which in the latest pattern helmets form part 
of them.* 

It will be easily conceived that the combina- 
tion of stink, poison, and tear -provoking gases 
would be very deadly if proper means had not 
been introduced to render nugatory their 
deleterious effects. Occasionally it happened 
that a change of direction of the wind blew 

* The material, usually benzyl-bromide, was fired in 
5-9 shells from howitzers. Each shell held about six 
pints of it, and being opened out by a small bursting 
charge on impact, scattered the liquid about, which slowly 
vapovirised. It had a very irritating effect on the eyes, 
making them smart severely and producing a flood 
of tears. 




back the poison gas among the Germans, which 
may be looked on as a providential arrangement. 

Against the flame jets the only defence was 
to avoid them, which was not always possible. 
But fortunately they were very local in their 
effects, and had also the disadvantage of 
destroying the wooden revetments of trenches 
(planks, brushwood, gabions, or hurdles), and 
therefore making it difficult for the Germans to 
occupy them. On the defensive, to stop an 
attack of the Allies, they proved of some utility, 
but always had the disadvantage of thoroughly 
rousing the temper of the troops against whom 
they were employed, with a resulting reluctance 
to take prisoners when the German position was 

On May 6 the Anzacs, who had arrived 
at the front but a short time previously, had 
their first encounter with the Germans. The 
latter had sent a reconnoitring party to 
penetrate our trenches, which gave them 
the desired opportunity. Kor did they wait 
on the pure defensive. On the contrary, when 
they saw the Germans approaching, and 
that they were within a short distance of their 
trench, they rushed over the parapet bayonet 
in hand to meet them. A fierce hand-to-hand 
conflict took place, in which the Germans were 
pressed back ; reinforcements were sent up to 
help them, and the Australians were also 
strengthened. Once more the two sides came to 
handy -strokes, and again our men, plying bomb 
and bayonet, drove back their opponents with 
substantial losses in killed and wounded. It was 
a pretty little fight, one in which the Anzacs 
showed their mettle, and for which they deserved 
good credit. Thus, within a fortnight of their 
landing in France they had got their hearts' 
desire, and had showed the Germans what they 
could do with them. The change from the 
trying conditions of Gallipoli or the great heat 
of Egypt was an agreeable one, and they 
thoroughly appreciated it. 

The fighting went on continuously in the 
Argonne and Champagne region, and at many 
little points the French had straightened their 
line. One of these incidents may here be 
rlescribed. The Germans at the particular point 
held a position of vantage which was a source of 
considerable annoyance to the opposing French 
( rench only some ten yards distant from it. As 
a preliminary the French infantry were quietly 
withdrawn unperceived by their opponents. 
The retirement was necessary because otherwise 
the French shells might have struck their own 

men. Once it was accomplished, the French 
proceeded to overwhelm the Germans with a 
storm of 15 cm. (6 in.) shells. These heavy 
projectiles pulverized the selected point while a 
number of 75 cm. field guns cut off access to it 
from either side by barrier fire. The operation 
was completely successful, the French infantry 
advanced and overpowered the defenders 
without difficulty, and then set hard to work 
to reconstruct the enemy's position and connect 
it with their own front line. Curious to relate, 
this was acquiesced in by the Germans without 
any attempt to reconquer it. 

On May 14 there was a renewal of activity 
against the British during the evening and 

Private Morrow, 1st Royal Fusiliers. 

night between Loos and the Bethune-La 
Bassee Canal. To the east of the former 
place the enemy selected a small secticn 
of our trenches for a particularly severe 
bombardment, and a party of their infantry 
succeeded in entering it, but was not able to 
make good its footing. On our side, the German 
trenches near the Hohenzollern redoubt were 
severely bombarded, as were those north and 
just south of the canal. The enemy sprang a 
mine 25 yards from our trenches and seized the 
crater, but after a short dose of shells from the 
British trench mortars our infantry captured 
it, driving back its garrison. This was about the 
only infantry fighting. Both sides exploded 





mines near Hulluch, and our artillery fired with 
success on the enemy's posts opposite Fauquis- 
sart, and silenced his trench mortars near 
St. Eloi. While this was going on the German 
artillery plastered their shells on the English 
position with a stern disregard of the results of 
their fire. Thus the ruined villages of Souchez, 
Ablain, St. Nazaire and Neuville St. Vaast all 
received a great deal of useless attention. 

On the night of May 15, on the Vimy Ridge, 
the Lancashire troops, including the Loyal North 
Lancasliire and the Lancashire Fusiliers, with 
whom were a company of Royal Engineers and 
some Welsh Pioneers, who rendered most 
valuable assistance in the assault, advanced 
and seized the enemy's forward line over a 
length of 250 yards, and inflicted considerable 
loss on the Germans.* The Yimy Heights 
were important to the Allies, as the\' domi- 
nated the ground to the east of them over 
which we should have to pass in any future 
advance, f 

This attack was the first serious offensive 
movement against the Ridge since the portion 
of the old French line at this part had been 
taken over by the British. The enemy here 
occupied a series of craters, six in number, in 
two groups of three, separated from each other 
by an interval of 40 yards. The craters formed 

* This appears to be a moderate estimate ; some 
observers rate the length at 360 yards. 

f It will be remembered that at the Battle of Loos the 
French made a great effort to secure this ground, but 
failed io do so. 

a curve convex to the trench held by our troops. 
Frcm them a powerful fire could be brought to 
bear on our line, which was dominated, while 
they also facilitated the observation of our 
trenches, and it was, therefore, desirable to 
turn the Germans out of them. 

For the two previous days the weather had 
been wet and cloudy, so that the enemy could 
see but little of our preparations. Among 
these were two series of nines, one directed 
against the left group of the German craters, 
the other against the right. At the determined 
moment our heavy artillery deluged the 
Ceiman position with powerful shells to send 
the Germans back into their dug-outs, and then 
our two groups of mines were fired in suc- 
cession, throwing dead and living up into the 
air. The explosions blew up four out of the 
six German craters, and knocked out a 
maclmie-gun which had been very destructive 
to us. On the German left there was, however, 
still one crater untouched, and against this 
went forward the Loyal North Lancashires. 
The German energies had already been shat- 
tered by the explosion so close to them, and 
our men had little trouble in seizing the 
position, and disposing of its garrison. At 
once, aided by the working parties and the 
Sappers, they set to work to occupy the crater 
lip, and to dig back communication trenches 
from it. 

Simultaneously with the Loya! North Lanca- 
shires the Lancasliire Fusiliers had advanced 



to assault the right group of craters and the 
interval of open ground between this and the 
others, and they, too, were successful. Lights 
went up from the German side, and then their 
gunners began to overwhelm the position just 
won with every species of projectile. But 
the men of the Red Rose held firm to the 
position they had gained, and reinforcements 
of men and bombs were sent up to aid them. 
By 9.30 p.m., one hour only after the attack 
began, the whole five Geiman craters, or what 
had been Geiman craters, were occupied by 
our troops. The scene was one of cruel anguish, 
for many of the troops, both British and Ger- 
man, were half -buried beneath the mass of 
earth which our guns and mines had thrown 
iip. We offered to cease fire if the Germans 
would do the same, so that the wounded might 
be rescued, but the only reply was a volley of 
bombs. The fighting and the working, there- 
fore, went on, and our men managed to con- 
solidate their position and hold it. 

On May 16, in the Champagne, the Germans 
tried to surprise a French post near Mesnil, 
but were driven off by bombs. In the Argonne 
there was a heavy artillery contest near the 
Four-de-Paris, the Courtes Chaussees, and 
Vauquois. Two raiding parties of Seaforth 
Highlanders entered tho Geiman trenches 
north of Roclincourt and succeeded in killing 
many of the enemy and in bombing three 

dug-outs, one of which was blown up. Our 
own casualties were slight, and both parties 
returned safely to the trenches. 

Opposite Auchy a patrol raided the enemy's 
trenches, which had been disturbed by a mine 
explosion, and penetrated towards the second 
line, exchanging some bombs with it. 

On May 17-19 the usual artillery and trench- 
mortar actions took place along the British 
front. The Germans exploded a mine 
south-east of Roclincourt, but we seized the 
near edge of the crater ; on the other hand, 
we fired a mine near Calonne, and effectively 
bombarded the enemy's position there. In 
the Western Argonne the Germans sprang 
a mine and tried to seize a salient near St. 
Hubert, but were stopped by curtain fire. 

On Saturday, May 20, the enemy, after a 
heavy bombardment, raided our line to the 
south-west of Loos. For a time he managed 
to seize our front trench, but was quickly 
driven out again, and on the Vimy Ridge the 
Loyal North Lancashire R,egiment recaptured a 
crater which the enemy had taken on the 18th ; 
we also blew up a mine near Hulluch and 
occupied the crater. 

In Lorraine the Geimms succeeded in pene- 
trating one of the French trenches to the west 
of Chazelles after a violent bombardment, but 
tho artillery and machine-gun fire soon obliged 
the Germans to evacuate the position. 


A British heavy howitzer on a railway mounting. 



On May 21 the Germans determined to 
recapture the position at the north end of the 
Vimy Ridge. After a heavy bombardment, 
which lasted well on into the afternoon, their 
infantry came on and succeeded in penetrating 
our front line of trenches on a front of 1,500 
yards, and a deptli of 100 to 300 yards. 
According to the Germans, several lines of the 
British position over a length of a mile and a 
quarter were captured, and during the night 
counter-attacks were repulsed and 8 officers 
and 220 men, with 4 macliine-guns and 3 trench- 
mortars were taken. On the next day our 
guns, in their turn, subjected the enemy to a 
heavy bombardment, but nothing more was 
done. We again sjjrang mines near Roclin- 
eourt, the Hohenzollern Redoubt and the 
Quarries, while vigorous mining was carried on 
near Neuville St. Vaast and south of Fleur- 
baix. There was also considerable artillery 
tiring at Loos and east of Ypres. 

May 24 being Empire Day, the following 
telegram was sent to the King by General Sir 
Douglas Haig : 

" On Empire Day, on behalf of your Majesty's 
Armies now in France, representative of every 
part of your Majesty's Dominions, I respect- 
fully submit the assurance of our loyal devotion 
to your Majesty and to the principles of free- 
dom and justice which are symbolized for us 
by the Crown and flag of the British Empire." 
His Majesty replied as follows : 

" I warmly appreciate the assurances of 
loyal devotion which you send me to-day in 
the name of the Armies of the British Empire 
serving under your command. Tell them 
with what pride and interest I follow their 
fortunes and of my confidence that success 
will crown their efforts. May the comrade 
ship of the battlefield knit still closer together 
the peoples of the Dominions and Mother 
Country in the age of peace which, please 
God. will be the fruit of this long and arduous 

" George, R.I." 
In his reply to an Empire Day message of 
congratulation and goodwill from President 
Poincare the King expressed his confidence in 
the victory of the Allies, and declared the 
solidarity of all his Empire with the noble 
French nation. 

During May 27 the British bombarded the 
enemy's trenches to the south-east of Neuve 
Chapelle, and destroyed some stores at Guille- 
innnt. The enemy for their part directed a 

heavy bombardment lasting 20 minutes west of 
Fricourt, and then about Serre. The British 
sprang five mines, three about Hulluch and two 
south-east of Cuinchy. The enemy also ex- 
ploded one near the Hohenzollern Redoubt and 
another on the Vimy Ridge, of which our troops 
occupied the crater. On the whole the Germans 
displayed rather more activity than during the 
previous few days and expended a large 
amount of ammunition, and the enemy's mines 
south-east of Neuville St. Vaast, south of Loos 
and east of Souchez, did some damage to the 
British trenches, but inflicted no casualties. 

On May 28 there was considerable activity in 
Alsace, when the Germans attempted to push 
home an attack on Belschweiller (north-west of 
Altkirch), but it was stopped by the French 
fire, and in Champagne the French guns blew 
up an ammunition depot in the region of Ville- 

On May 28 and 29 the German artillery 
delivered a heavy but intermittent fire against 
the British front between the La Bassee Canal 
and Arras, against our trenches near Loos, and 
as far north as Neuville St. Vaast. On our right 
the re-entrant in our line about Mametz and 
Fricourt also formed a target for German artil- 
lery fire, and from Zillebeke to Hooge and near 
Elverdinger the British position was also 
shelled. By way of reply our artillery breached 
the hostile parapet just north of Hooge and 
destroyed a machine-gun emplacement, and 
generally along the whole line our guns did 
considerable damage to the enemy's works, as 
well as to the hostile batteries. There was no 
infantry activity. 

On May 30 the enemy continued his general 
bombardment. That about Neuve Chapelle 
was particularly heavy. It lasted for 80 
minutes, and was followed by an infantry attack 
which penetrated our trenches, and took some 
of our men prisoners. A counter movement 
drove the Germans back. The Germans sprang 
a mine north of Bethune, and our troops occu- 
pied the near lip of the crater. There wa.s also 
some mining activity near Loos. 

On May 31 the artillery duel went on unin- 
terruptedly. British and German guns of all 
calibres were engaged near the Vimy Ridge, and 
from time to time the fire became intense. The 
activity of the guns extended also, in a lesser 
degree, northwards in the direction of Loos 
and near Ypres, and also near the Somme the 
same occurred, but beyond this there was no 





The rifle-grenade about to 

It will be remembered that round Ypres 
there had already been two severe battles. The 
first lasted from October 20 until November 11, 
1914, the second April 22-May 13, 1915. 
On June 2, 1916, a series of engagements com- 
menced which may be fittingly described as 
the third battle. The ground over which the 
battle was fought was roughly confined between 
the Ypres -Menin road and the Ypres-Comines 
canal. It was in the main an open, rolling 

leave the rifle (on left). 

country with no very pronounced feature ; 
but the culminating portion of the ridge which 
swept round Ypres had an average height of 
about 120 feet, above that town and was of 
sufficient elevation to make its possession of 
importance to the British, for it overlooked the 
ground in front of it. Equally was it desirable 
to the Germans, because if our line were forced 
back here it would be difficult to construct n 
continuous barrier behind it, and Ypres would 



,,,«, ^-u Polygon t 
■gNopne / r<,"- 
Bosche. T'£ 


rale of One Mile ^M§ 

Heights rnMe tres 


have fallen into the enemy's hands. It must 
not be forgotten that our trenches in " the 
Ypres salient " had all the disadvantages 
which that geometrical form possesses, in the 
liability of the flanks to enfilade fire ; but still 
the possession of Ypres was considered to 
be of sufficient importance to justify hanging 
on to it, because if it fell into German hands 
it would have been necessary to draw back 
our front line of trenches, both north and 
south of it, for some considerable distance. 
North of Hooge was Bellcwarde Farm, a mass 
of ruins, while to the right of it might be seen 
the German lines behind their wire entangle- 
ments. Hooge and the trees round it existed 
no more, but the Sanctuary Wood and the 
copses along the main ridge running south 
from Hooge to Zwartelen and Hill 60 still 
afforded cover. From Hill 60 to the canal 
the ground slopes gently downward. From the 
hill, and running in a north-easterly direction 
parallel with the railway, is a minor spur, at 
first fairlv flat and then descending more 
abruptly to Zillebeke and the lake to the west 
of it, which is 110 feet below the main crest. 
This spur afforded a secondary position for 
the British, secured on its left flank by the 
Jake, but sormwhat open to enfilade on the 

right. Plainly, for the reasons given above, 
the line frcm Bellcwarde to Hill 60 was of 
great tactical importance for the British to 
stop an advance on Ypres, for the Ceimins to 
commmd the ground which led to that ruined 
city. Tho German attack was delivered against 
our front between Hooge and the neighbour- 
hood of Hill 60, Zwartelen. 

At 9.15 a.m. on June 2 the enemy's gun- 
fire reached an intense development, which 
was continued without intermission until 
noon. It was directed not only against 
the front line of trenches, but the ruined 
village of Hooge was especially favoured, 
also the ground behind, j'^rticularly towards 
Zillobeke and Ypres, forming a barrage to 
prevent reinforcements being sent to our men. 
Although the British gunners replied to this 
they were unable to subdue the fire of the 
enemy, which seriously damaged our trenches 
and the communications to the rear. The 
Canadians, who garrisoned this part of the 
position with British divisions to the north of 
them, fought well and stood the pounding 
without flinching, although their losses were 
heavy. Their troops included the Canadian 
Mounted Rifles, the Royal Canadian Regiment, 
Princess Patricia's Light Infantry, and Canadian 



infantry from all parts of the Dominions. 01 
these the Patricia's, with some battalions of the 
Royal Canadian Regiment, held the northern 
end of the line south of Hooge and in the 
Sanctuary Wood. More to the south were the 
Canadian Mounted Rifles and various other 

Shortly before one o'clock the artillery fire 
against our front line was lifted and used to 
form a barrier to prevent reinforcements coming 
up. Masses of hostile infantry, nine or ten batta- 
lions, were now seen approachirg it on a front 
of less than two miles, crossing the intervening 
paces between the two lines, which was often 
not more than 100 yards wide. By half-past two 
the enemy had succeeded in penetrating the 
front line at many points, as he greatly out- 
numbered the defenders. A desperate hand- 
to-hand struggle took place, which was parti- 
cularly fierce in the neighbourhood of Sanctuary 
Wood and on the rising ground a little to the 
north of Hill CO, many of the Canadians refusing 
to yield to superior numbers, and preferring 
death to surrender. But the enemy gradu- 
ally overpowered the brave defenders, and 
during the afternoon our troops fell back to 
a position about 1,000 yards in rear of the 
original line. 

In the wood, and in Maple Copse close to it, 

it wn a fight to the death Twice were the 
assailants driven back with heavy loss Rein- 
f orcein mts were brought up but suffered 
severely from the enemy's barrier fire. During 
the night the action was not so intense, but 
parties of the enemy penetrated to a depth of 
some 700 yards in the direction of Zillebeke, 
and here and there infantry encounters 
took place, while the artillery on both sides 
continued in action. That of the British 
gradually increased in vigour during the early 

The position the Germans had gained afforded 
them very little defensive capability, for it had 
been destroyed by the previous artillery fire 
which they had directed against it, and which 
our men had withstood for 24 hours before they 
fell back. Our guns also executed barrier fire to 
prevent further reinforcements from reaching 
the enemy. At 7 o'clock in the morning 
the Canadian counter-attack commenced. By 
about 8.30 they had driven back the German 
centre and penetrated the lost trench at several 
important points. Thus near Hooge a long 
stretch was carried at the first attempt, and 
in a more southerly direction in the middle of 
the disputed line and at two or three points 
lower down the Canadians won a footing, and 
then proceeded systematically to bomb their 


Established in the crater formed by the explosion of a shell. 
















way right and left until the whole of the trench 
had been recovered, including the high ground a 
little to the north of Hill CO. The advance was 
very difficult, especially on the right, as the 
attackers were taken in reverse by machine- 
gun fire and suffered from a murderous artillery 
bombardment, and this prevented them holding 
on to the ground they had regained. Still the 
outcome of the counter-attack was that part of 
the Germans, especially in the centre of the 
ground they had captured, were pushed back 
and the limit of their advance was reduced to 
some 350 yards. Our troops proceeded to 
throw up cover in the new position. This 
was concave to the salient position we had 
previously held, the left horn resting on the 
old trench about 1,000 yards south of Hooge, 
while the right was on a point 800 yards north- 
east of HOI 60. The German attack was in 
the nature of a surprise, and they managed to 
capture Major-General Mercer and Brigadier- 
General Williams of the 3rd Canadian Division, 
who were inspecting the front trenches at the 
time of the assault. According to German 
accounts the former violently resisted capture 
and struck a sergeant across the face with his 
sword. He was then bayoneted and died of 
his wound. The losses of the Canadians were 
severe, especially during the commencing 
defensive of the battle, but the Germans in their 
alternative roles of assailant and defender also 
suffered heavily. 

On June 4 there was no material change in 
the situation ; we maintained the recaptured 
ground and the fighting was limited to the 

The next day the lull in the infantry opera- 
tions continued, though the artillery was still 
very active on both sides. On June 6 the Ger- 
mans directed a heavy bombardment to the 
north and south of Hooge and also towards 
Ypres-Comines railway and canal. Between 
3 and 4.30 p.m. the enemy sprang a series of 
mines over a front of 2,000 yards to the north of 
Hooge and he succeeded in capturing the front 
trench of the British position where it passed 
through the village. Attempts against other 
portions of the line farther north were repulsed 
by the British holding, There was also 
another attack directed against our trenches 
west of Hooge ; but thereafter the struggle 
died down again into an intermittent artillery 
fire only- 

The fight now became of normal and 
quieter character, chiefly artillery fire and 

occasional small raids of no very great import- 
ance ; but on the 10th the German bombard- 
ment against our Ypres position became mucfl 
more violent, our trenches north of the Ypres- 
Comines railway, between the hours of 1 and 
3 p.m., being severely punished, as was the 
ground we held south of Hooge ; but there were 
no infantry engagements. The next day, 
Sunday, June 11, during the morning, there was 
a further bombardment of Ypres and the ground 
to the south of it, also of our trenches north of 
the Menin road, while in the afternoon the 
main attention of the enemy's guns was directed 
against the Canadian position from Hill 60 to 
the north for a distance of 1,500 vards. But 


An Australian amusing himself with a toy 


again there were no infantry attacks of import- 

Monday, June 12, was an uneventful day, 
with only a heavy bombardment between 
Hill 60 and Hooge by both sides ; but the 13th 
saw a vigorous counter-attack delivered by the 
Canadians to regain the ground lost on June 2-3. 

Our artillery had been very active during the 
previous days against the part of the enemy's 
position selected for assault — viz., that portion 
of the ground the enemy had won between 
Hill 60 and Hooge, the ridge dominating from 
the east the valley down to Zillebeke. From 
12.45 p.m. on the 12th it was raised to the 
highest possible intensity, and lasted to 1.30 a.m. 
on the 13th. The night was very cold, wet and 
dark, and indeed the weather for the past week 
had been extremely unpropitious. But this had 




in nowise affected the ardour of the men, who 
burned to retake the position they had lost 1(1 
days before. At half-past one our fire lifted and 
the infantry dashed forward. The enemy poured 
out a severe barrier fire to prevent the approach 
of our men, but so great was their impetuosity 
that they pushed tlirough it and quickly gained 
their objective before the .sun rose. The resist- 
ance of the Germans was but feeble ; they 
seemed thoroughly cowed by the previous 
artillery preparation, and groups of them 
surrendered at sight, and seemed glad to do so. 
Over 150 prisoners were taken. One German 
officer who surrendeied with 132 men said: 
" I knew how it would be. We had orders to 
take this ground and took it, but we knew you 
would come back again. You have done so. 
So here I am.' * It was plain that our continued 

* Daily Telegraph, Juno 16. 



Circle picture : A Sniper at work. 

shell-fire had prevented the enemy from 
properly digging himself in and that he could 
not hold the line effectually. At one point he 
had even failed to discover certain stores and 
ammunition hastily covered in by the Canadians 
before their retreat. 

Oiir men at once set about consolidating 
their position and, although subjected to very 
heavy artillery fire during the next 24 hours, 
clung bravely to the position they had gained. 
Once the enemy massed his infantry for attack, 
but it was met by such a hail of fire from 
our guns thai no attempt to advance was 

The advance of the main attack had been 
much facilitated by two flank attacks or raids, 
one on the left by British troops against the Ger- 
man trenches north of Hooge, and another, on the 
right, made by the Anzaes. These were covered 
by gas to cause the enemy to believe they were 
serious, and both were successful and with slight 
loss. They served to prevent the concentration 
of more German infantry and to safeguard the 
Canadian assault from flank attack. 

Particular interest attached to certain docu- 
ments belonging to a German Grenadier Regi- 
ment that were captured in the Ypres salient 
by the Canadians during the course of their 
successful counter-attack of June 13. 

Stress is laid in these documents upon the 
necessity to collect all the debris after a fight. 



It is urgently enjoined that search shall 
invariably be made for the recovery of 

" boots of all lands, all sorts of weapons and 
parts of them, entrenching tools, steel 
helmets, leather equipment, pouches, all kinds 
of weapons for close fighting, belts, tents, 
material of all kinds, haversacks, tunics, 
trousers, and sandbags. These goods are of 
most decisive importance to the final success 
of our great cause." 

This did not sound as if the Germans were 
too well provided with equipment. This was 
emphasized by the instruction " The enemy's 
dead will be divested of articles of woollen 
clothing and boots." Special instructions are 
given to guard against the deterioration of 
German fighting material : 

" This must be brought back from the first 
position and its communication trenches as 
soon as possible. The exceeding disorder of 
the second line must be at once thoroughly 
cleaned up." 

One sentence conveys what the Germans 
really thought of the men opposite to them in 
the Ypres salient more eloquently than even a 
column of typical Teutonic abuse : " In view 
of the enemy's characteristics, we have to 
expect a strong attack at any time." 

Six days after this opinion was written down 
the attack came in good sooth, with the result 
already described. 

June 15 was marked by no special activity. 
The artillery fire continued on both sides, but 
there were no infantry actions. Nor were any 
further serious attempts made to turn us out of 
the position gained during the remainder of the 
month. Artillery fire there was, and some small 
minor operations, but no serious effort to dispute 
our position. 

Let us now return to the southern end of the 
British line. The principal efforts during June 7 
were made by the enemy against the sector 
comprised between the Vimy Ridge and the 
La Bassee Canal. The artillery fire was active 
and several mines were exploded. Near the 
Hohenzollern Redoubt we sprang a mine which 
laid bare the hostile defences and enabled our 
snipers to shoot down nine of the defenders. At 
Souchez our artillery did good work, and just 
south of the canal a successful raid drove out 
the Germans from one of their trenches and 
inflicted considerable loss on them. At this 
southern end of our position, just as at Ypres, 
after June 13 the fighting, while costing us 

considerable losses, was not productive of any 
great tactical results. 

When, so to say, two hostile forces engage 
one another at very short distances, often not 
twice the length of a cricket pitch apart and 
rarely over 100 yards, it is plain that 
daily casualties must be incurred on no light 
scale, and it speaks volumes for the troops on 
either side that they stood this ever-present 
danger without flinching. By this period, 
however, we had attained a superiority in 
artillery, and from time to time overwhelmed 
the Germans at points where we wished to 
press forward. Then it was usually found, as in 
the case of the Canadian counter-attack from 
Hooge to Hill 60, that the Germans were 
shattered morally as well as physically. In 
the ordinary routine of reciprocal shell and 
trench-mortar fire, of sniping and patrolling, 
they still maintained their reputation. But it 
became clearer and more clear as the result of 
our experience, both in raids and larger attacks, 
that they did not relish the close-quarter 
combat with bomb and bayonet. 

To these methods of destruction were added 
the constant danger from mines, which were 
used by both sides to an extent hitherto 
undreamt of in battle fighting. 

On the early morning of June 22 the Germans 
sprang a very large mine in the neighbourhood 
of Givenchy, j ust north of the La Bassee Canal. 
This they followed with a heavy barrage fire 
behind the British line, under cover of which 
they penetrated our front on a narrow space. 
The Welsh Fusiliers were guarding this part 
of the line, and were deceived by the calm into 
thinking the Germans had no intention of dis- 
turbing the quietude of the locality. Suddenly 
there was a terrible roar, the earth opened, 
and a huge mass of timber, soil and sandbags 
was upheaved and fell back with a crash into 
a vast crater, 120 feet across, and the trenches 
in its neighbourhood, destroying the parapets 
and replacing the well-ordered constructions 
by a cleared space and a deep pit. Then 
came the hostile artillery fire, pounding the 
position and seeking by a veil of shells to cut 
off all access to it. It was followed by three 
distinct assaulting parties, who rushed forward 
to occupy the mine-pit. But the Welshmen 
were equal to the situation. Some had been 
blown up, others dazed by the shock, yet 
right and left of the riven ground there were 
others eager for revenge. They closed on the 
flanks of the raiding party and drove them 





The German airman, killed in June, 


Who brought down Immelmann 

back, fighting hard, into the crater, out of it, 
and back to their own trenches. The Germans 
had captured a machine gun and tried to take it 
with them, but the men dragging it were all shot 
down, and after lying in the open till Saturday 
morning it was recovered by the Fusiliers. 

A pleasant incident in this little fight was 
the gallant conduct of a pioneer battalion 
working in the vicinity. The men rushed 
forward with their spades and dealt shrewd 
blows with them on the astonished Germans. 

During the night of June 24-25 there was 
an attempted raid by the enemy on our trenches 
north-east of Loos, which was easily driven 
back. All day long on the 25th our artillery 
were very active along the whole front, and at 
places there were considerable replies by the 
enemy, who also exploded four mines — two 
opposite Hullueh, one south of the Bethune- 
La Bassee line, and one north of Neuve Chapelle. 
None of them caused any casualties ; nor did 
one sprung on the 24th near the Hohenzollern 
Redoubt. On the other hand, we destroyed 
six kite balloons out of 15 which we at- 

On the night of the 25th-26th we executed 
ten successful raids, which inflicted considerable 
loss on the enemy, who also lost prisoners 
while our casualties were slight. Our artillery, 
too, fired with great effect, damaging the hostile 
lines in many places, and causing four heavy 
explosions among the rearward part of the 
German position. 

The preparatory bombardment of the enemy 
to pave the way for the great advance of July 


The German airman, who claimed 

his nineteenth victory, June, 1916. 

had begun. From Ypres to the Somme his 
position was subjected to a hail of projectiles, 
generally distributed, but also concentrated at 
various points, so as to leave the enemy in 
doubt as to where the attack, which he quite 
appreciated was coming, would really be 
delivered. The German reply, except for short 
intervals and against a few places, was feeble 
and ineffectual. 

Our fire was one of pure devastation intended 
to destroy the Germans, their batteries and 
trench defences, blow up their ammunition 
depots, and bombard far back their resting 
places and lines of communication. This was 
all effectively done. Nor was the infantry 
idle. Raids were made on the enemy's 
trenches, inflicting heavy losses on him, but 
with few casualties to ourselves. Some of 
these attacks were covered by gas, and at one 
place where this had been employed the trenches 
when entered by our men were full of German 
dead. No less than a dozen successful raids were 
made by our men on June 28-29, in which the 
Liverpool Regiment, the Lancashire Fusiliers, 
the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, the 
Highland Light Infantry, and the Australians 
all took part. 

The prologue of the play was coming to an 
end, and in a couple of days the grand drama 
would commence. All this time the battle raged 
round Verdun and in the Champagne. Further 
away, in Alsace, there had been more or less 
continuous fighting. The German was every- 
where held ; the Allies were about to begin their 

O « 
H 2 

Z f, 


= If 

H x 




Work fob Territorials and Volunteers in Peace Time — Beginnings of the War Work — 
Origin of the Y.M.C.A. — Training Camps — Marquees and Huts — The Y.M.C.A. in France — 
Hostels for Soldiers' Relatives — Railway Station Work — The Shakespeare Hut — Estab- 
lishments in London — Work for the Navy — H.M.S. Crystal Palace — Munition Workers — 
Troops from the Dominions — The Y.M.C.A. in India. 

of the Young Men's Christian Associa- 
tion, took a keen interest during the 
closing days of his life in the experiment 
made by one of its auxiliaries at the time of the 
South African War. This included the provision 
of marquees for the use of the troops as reading, 
writing and recreation centres, and also as 
meeting places for religious services. It was 
thus that the National Council of Y.M.C.A. 's 
entered upon its first comiexion with the soldier 
in actual warfare, and the modest beginning 
proved a great success Before this period the 
Association had established relations with the 
Volunteers, and then later with the Territorials, 
during their fortnight's training in camp, by 
setting up its marquee equipment in the centres 
marked out for summer training camps and 
providing a place where the men could write 
their letters — usually it was the official post 
office — and purchase tea, coffee and light 

When the war began these two experiences 
decided the Y.M.C.A to prepare similar services 
for the new Army. It had the machinery ready 
and its work with the Volunteers and Terri- 
torials inspired confidence as to the results. 
Mr. A. K. Yapp, the General Secretary of the 
National Council of Y.M.C.A.'s, suggested an 
immediate appeal for £25,000. The appeal was 
launched by a special War Work Committee, 

of which Sir Thomas Sturmey Cave was chair- 
man, Mr. A. K. Yapp secretary, and Mr. F. J. 
Chamberlain assistant secretary. Somewhat 
later Sir Henry E. Procter became acting 
treasurer. In a few weeks' time the £25,000 
appeared to be totally inadequate and another 
£25,000 was required immediately. Before this 
second amount was received it was seen that 
even £50,000 would not meet the demands which 
poured in from all parts of the United Kingdom. 
Extensions often proceeded before the money 
was in hand, owing to the urgent character of 
the work, but in the first two years of war the 
subscriptions amounted to £830,000 — a total 
which included donations from the King and 
Queen, Queen Alexandra, and other members of 
the Royal Family, as well as gifts from rich and 
poor alike. As the war advanced many gifts 
were made in order to perpetuate the memory 
of sons and brothers, and in France, at home, 
and elsewhere there soon were many memorial 
huts. Children in the elementary schools raised 
over £16,000 by gifts from many thousands of 
schools. Harrow in the second year of war gave 
a complete building, and other public schools 
rendered help in a most generous spirit. Livery 
companies and railway, banking and commercial 
undertakings added their share to the funds, 
while humbler people brought their shillings. 

To appreciate the significance of this assist- 
ance, the beginnings of the Y.M.C.A. have to 





The Duchess of Argyll opening the Rest and Refreshment Hut at King's Cross. 

Left to right : Duchess of Argyll, Major-General Sir Francis Lloyd, Mrs. Joy and Mr. Alexander Joy, 

the donors of the Hut. 

be remembered. The movement, as originally 
started in England — from whence it spread 
throughout the world — came from an evan- 
gelical source. Its creed of membership con- 
tained evangelical doctrine, and the Paris Con- 
ference which determined its international 
character set forth the following basis : 

The Young Men's Christian Associations seek to 
unite those young men who, regarding Jesus Christ as 
their God and Saviour according to the Holy Scriptures, 
desire to be His disciples in their doctrine and in their 
life, and to associate their efforts for the extension of 
His Kingdom among young men. 

The founders were good men, for the greater 
part trained in a somewhat narrow mould. At 
the commencement, in 1844, the object was 
described as " the improvement of the spiritual 
condition of young men engaged in the drapery 
and other trades by the introduction of 
religious services among them." Membership 
was confined to those possessing a definite 
religious experience. One of the rules stipulated 
" that no person shall be considered a member 
of this Association unless he be a member of a 
Christian Church, or there be sufficient evidence 
of his being a converted character." In the 
early 'sixties a severe rebuke was administered 
to Archbishop Trench and Dr. Dale, the well- 
known evangelical theologian of Birmingham, 
because they had " trailed their Christian 
priesthood in the dust to offer homage at the 

shrine of a dead playwright " at the Shake- 
speare tercentenary celebrations. There was 
also a reference to " the oratorio of the ' Messiah ' 
wherein, as John Newton once said, roughly 
but pointedly, " the Redeemer's agonies are 
illustrated on catgut.' Masquerade and sermon, 
pageant and oratorio ! — it is very mournful." 
Nevertheless, and largely owing to the indomit- 
able enthusiasm of the founder, Sir George 
Williams, the branches increased at home, in 
France, and other parts of the Continent, and 
eventually in the United States and our Over- 
seas Dominions. Its social features were 
developed cautiously — if not jealously — because 
its leaders feared that the religious side of the 
work might be jeopardized. Smoking was 
prohibited in Y.MG.A. buildings and the 
members were advised to abstain from athletic 
contests. Naturally such points were criticized 
by the younger men who gradually came into 
their own on the committees, and presently a 
broader and more catholic policy found expres- 
sion. According to current opinion, the Asso- 
ciation created a particular type of young man 
supposed to be addicted to personal introspec- 
tion and lacking virility and commonsense. In 
some quarters the Y.M.C.A. provoked satire 
and derision, and in both Church of England and 
Nonconformist circles there did not appear 
that measure of cooperation that might 



have been expected. The general situation with 
respect to the establishment and progress of the 
Y.M.C.A. and its limitations up to the time of 
the war need to be remembered in connexion 
with what was afterwards accomplished. 

Neither barracks nor temporary buildings 
were sufficient at first to house the hundreds 
of thousands of recruits who joined the new 
armies. Away on lonely commons, under 
canvas, in barns, halls and schools, billeted in 
private houses, or in many cases occupying 
empty ones — often without beds, blankets, 
chairs, forms or tables — their accommodation 
taxed all resources to the breaking point. 
Moreover, coming straight from civilian life, 
many from middle-class families, the men found 
the social amenities in camp less than those 
usually enjoyed by the soldier in barracks. 
It was at this point that the Y.M.C.A. came 
to the assistance of the New Army. The 
methods adopted appeared exceedingly simple. 
In the early days of the war marquees were 
erected in every camp to which commanding 
officers gave permission. Tea, coffee and re- 
freshments were supplied during the soldier's 
off-duty hours. He could obtain an early cup 
of tea before going on duty at six o'clock on an 

autumn morning, and when he returned after a 
night march he usually found hot refreshments 
before he turned in for the night. Cigarettes, 
matches, boot-laces, buttons and other sundries 
could be obtained at the Y.M.C.A. counter. 
The Association never coveted the position of 
haberdasher and tobacconist to the troops, but 
when the camp was situated miles away from 
a town the soldier appreciated this service. 

Concerned with the social benefit of the 
soldier the leaders did not disguise their defi 
nitely religious objects when they undertook 
this war work. They appreciated the fact, 
however, that religion cannot be forced on men. 
They did not therefore attempt either religious 
button-holing or cross-examination. An un- 
denominational service was arranged on Sun- 
day evenings, but in the mornings the marquee 
could be used by Church of England. Roman or 
Free Church chaplains. This hospitality on 
the part of a religious organization with deeply 
embedded Protestant traditions received grate- 
ful thanks in due course from Cardinal Bourne 
and from the Rev. M. Adler, the chief Jewish 

At the start the service of nearly every 
available Y.M.C.A. official in the country was 

Soldiers writing to their friends. 



requisitioned. So great was the pressure 
owing to the rapid extension of the agencies 
that the leaders gladly availed themselves of 
the help of teachers, undergraduates and 
others who were free from their ordinary 
duties during the holiday period that followed 
the outbreak of the war. Some mistakes 
occurred here and there, and men unfitted by 
temperament and lack of knowledge for such 
positions were found in places of trust, but on 
the whole these instances were comparatively 
few. The enthusiasm of the undertaking and 
the splendid spirit of the new Army carried the 
helpers along, and it was not unusual for them 
to keep at their duties in the marquees during 
16 or 18 hours of every day in the week. 

From the first the work won the approval of 
the Army authorities. They smoothed away 
difficulties, provided facilities for transport, 
and detailed orderlies for pitching the marquees 
and other heavy work. The marquees were 
usually within the camp boundaries, and be- 
came a part of the life of the camp. This 
recognition by the military authorities proved 
a great asset. 

The winter of 1914 settled the policy of the 
Y.M.C.A. A brilliant autumn was followed by 

an exceptionally wet winter. Even high and 
exposed country like Salisbury Plain resembled 
a morass, while the roads in the district were 
covered with water four or five inches deep. 
The autumnal gales wrecked scores of marquees, 
and it became necessary, instead of the mar- 
quees, which were comparatively cheap and 
portable, to embark on the erection of huts, 
costing on an average £600 to £700. Some of 
the first to be erected accommodated the Cana- 
dian troops just arrived in England. Many 
improvements were subsequently made in the 
interior arrangements of the huts. An audi- 
torium was provided at Crowborough. for 
example, to seat 2,000 men. Satisfactory 
cooking arrangements were possible in the 
hut, which enabled the helpers to prepare 
more expeditiously the hot refreshments re- 
quired by the men. In large camps a double 
hut was built, which contained a special room 
for concerts, lectures and services apart from 
the common room used for games, correspon- 
dence, and the serving of refreshments from the 

In addition to marquees and huts, public 
halls, mission rooms and other suitable build- 
ings were hired in centres occupied by thousands 


Munition workers going to dinner. 




Mr. Lloyd George visits the dining-room for mun 
tion workers at Ponder's End, while Mrs. Llovd 
George (smaller picture) distributes chocolates and 
cigarettes to soldiers at the Temperance Hut at 
Hampstead Heath. 

of troops. One of the most notable enter- 
prises was the transformation of a huge shell - 
like building in the White City at Shepherd's 
Bush, formerly occupied by Bostock's menagerie, 
for the use of 10,000 Territorials in training 
there during the winter of 1914. The usual 
activities were here supplemented by the estab- 
lishment of a lending library and the organization 
of war lectures. Both agencies justified them- 
selves, and as tho war progressed this depart- 
ment received increasing attention not only at 
home, but, as will be shown later, in the British 
camps overseas. 

Whether in hut, marquee or elsewhere the 
effort was made to provide club facilities. 
Apart from the officers' quarters the Y.M.C.A. 
centre was the only place that boasted chairs 
and tables for the men. The Bishop of London, 
one of the few English Bishops who had 
practical experience of the camps (having spent 
a month under canvas at Crowborough), in 
recording his impressions of camp life, stated 
that marquees where the men could write 
letters home were immensely appreciated, and 
that was the reason why the Y.M.C.A. was so 
popular with the men. From the commence- 

ment notepaper and envelopes were supplied 
free, and this distribution involved many million 
sheets of paper and envelopes at a considerable 

The soldier's love of music was recognized in 
the provision for the Territorial camps. Every 
marquee had its piano. A penny edition of 
" Camp Songs " sold in hundreds of thousands. 
This little book contained a selection of humor- 
ous, sentimental and patriotic songs that are 
always favourites with men, and proved of 
considerable service in promoting the success 
of the "sing-song." After a long and tedious 
day the camp " sing-song " gave that happy 
relief to a large body of men which cannot b"> 
found in any other way. The "sing-song ' 
closed a few minutes before the men had to be 
in their quarters for the night, and almost 



Founder of the Y.M.C.A. 

invariably the majority remained for a hymn 
and short prayer, followed by the National 
Anthem. No one was forced to stay, and the 
whole service lasted but a few minutes. 

Neither at the period of the commencement 
of the war nor in its later days were the soldiers, 
speaking generally, subject to the conditions of 
a religious revival, such as was claimed in 
some quarters. They were, however, eager 
listeners and interested in unconventional 
religious services with plenty of singing. 
Here they showed preferences of a striking 
character. They loved to sing Dr. Monsell's 
" Fight the good Fight," Charles Wesley's 
" Sun of my Soul " and Cardinal New- 
man's " Lead Kindly Light." The Sunday 
evening service was addressed by a chaplain or 
one of the Y.M.C.A. helpers, and frequently 
when this closed the men continued another 
hour singing further hymns. An attempt to 
measure the religious influences would be mis- 
leading, but thousands of signatures were 
secured for the Y.M.C.A. War Roll. 

Trained to a strict observance of the Sabbath, 
the Y.M.C.A. leaders perforce modified their 
opinions and opened the huts and marquees 
during the whole of the seven days. The 
majority of the centres were not closed, except 
at night, from the time they were first 
opened. Several huts kept open doors both 
night and day. Sunday trading naturally 
presented a difficult proposition. Some people 
severely criticized the policy adopted, but the 
large majority who know the conditions recog- 
nized the necessity of the course that was 
followed. The Association had to decide 
whether the sale of hot refreshments should be 
prohibited on Sundays and the men driven to 
the wet canteen. Whilst replying in the nega- 
tive, they limited Sunday labour as far as 
possible and restricted amusements, but neces- 
saries could be purchased at the counter as on 
other days. 

Soon after the war commenced the necessity 
became evident of establishing in France 
similar agencies for the troops to those that 
had been provided at home. Lord French, 
then in command of the British Expeditionary 
Force, expressed complete sympathy with this 
desire though unable owing to the nature of 
the military operations to suggest an imme- 
diate beginning. By November, 1914, however, 
the Y.M.C.A. was permitted to start its work 
in some of the base and rest camps as an 
experiment, on the implied understanding that 
if successful it would be allowed to make 
extensions. This cautious policy was probably 
wise in the absence of previous experience, for 
the fact had to be determined to what extent 
voluntary agencies could be associated with 
the British Army in the war zone. Many 
questions were involved, including the difficul- 
ties of transport and the exact relation of a 
civilian organization to military discipline 
which was necessarily stricter than at home. 
The tentative period proved the value of the 
work. Writing on November 23, 1915, after a 
full year's experience, Viscount French testified 
to " the fine work done by the Y.M.C.A." 
Continuing he said : 

The problem of dealing with conditions, at such a 
time, and under existing circumstances, at the rest 
camps has always been a most difficult one ; but the 
erection of huts by the Young Men's Christian Associa- 
tion has made this far easier. The extra comfort 
thereby afforded to the men, and the opportunities for 
reading and writing, have been of incalculable service, 
and I wish to tender to your Association and all those 
who have assisted, my most grateful thanks. 



The history of European wars contains no 
experience similar to that of this large and or- 
ganized enterprise for assisting soldiers in the 
field with social and religious agencies. Military 
commanders naturally placed such efforts 
outside their sphere of action, and neither 
churches nor other bodies previously realized 
the necessity and value of these undertakings. 
The Salvation Army and the Church Army 
followed the British soldier into France on more 
or less similar lines, but the Y.M.C.A. deserves 
the honour of the start as well as recognition 
for the completeness of its organization. 

From November, 1914, the agencies in 
France were gradually extended, until by the 
time the war had been two years in progress 
1 80 centres had been established. The maj ority 
of these were huts, built, so far as later editions 
were concerned, in 5 ft. sections, so that they 
could be easily moved. Various kinds of 
buildings were also requisitioned, including 
an old church, a convent, a cinema, a winter 
garden and theatre, a mayor's parlour, and 
farm buildings and structures of various 
descriptions, upon all of which the sign of the 
Red Triangle was affixed — an indication of a 
warm and constant welcome to the British 
troops. At the earnest wish of the Y.M.C.A. 
leaders, the generals commanding divisions 
at length permitted them to go up to villages 
where the men in the trenches had their billets. 
The Heath Harrison Hut, for instance, was 
situated near cross roads 3J or 4 miles from 
the German lines and exposed to shell fire. 
From early morning until late at night a 
continuous queue passed to and from the 
refreshment counter, and indicated the benefit 
of the place to these trench heroes. Again, the 
Threapwood Hut was situated within a mile or 

so of the enemy, and before it was destroyed by 
the German fire, fifty evidences of the damage 
by bursting shell or shrapnel were to be seen 
in the building. The safety of the workers 
had been ensured to some extent by the pro- 
vision of a dug-out by the military authorities, 
and when the Germans managed to drop a shell 
upon it the leader and his helpers, warned of 
the danger, were able to escape. 

By permission of Her Majesty, the first 
Y.M.C.A. building erected in France was named 
the " Queen Mary Hut." This was situated a 
short distance from the quay of one of the 
French harbours, being largely used by the 
men who came from the Port of London 
Authority to unload the transports. Though 
dressed in khaki, they ranked as non-com- 
batants and did the work of ordinary dock 
labourers. Hanging in the Queen Mary Hut 
was a framed copy of the Queen's letter ex- 
pressing warm sympathy with the Y.M.C.A. 
work in France. Other members of the Royal 
Family exhibited similar interest. Princess 
Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein rendered great 
service by accepting the post of President of 
the Ladies' Auxiliary Committee for the 
Y.M.C.A. base camps in France. The Princess 
paid visits to France and inspected the whole 
of the arrangements in order to effect improve- 
ments and modifications. Her committee 
collected parcels of comforts, footballs, cricket 
sets, musical instruments, and other articles 
for the use of the men. The same committee 
also organized lady helpers, who gave their 
services and thus saved the necessity of em- 
ploying men required for the fighting line. 
These ladies, to the number of 300, performed 
arduous duties in an admirable manner and 
to the complete advantage of the work. 

Field Secretary, Y.M.C.A. 


President of the National 

Y.M.C.A. Council. 

MR. A. K. YAPP, 
General Secretary, Y.M.C.A. 



The whole of the operations in France were 
controlled on the spot by Mr. Oliver McCowen, 
bL.I!.. who was originally V.M.C.A. secretary 
in Burmah. He gradually built ' up a large 
organization, which by August. l!)l(i, consisted 
of a staff of 700 workers. Only a. small pro- 
portion were men of military age, for whom 
exemption had been claimed, and these 
principally took the places of ladies who were 
naturally prohibited from serving near the 
firing line. Many of Mr McCowen's assis- 
tants were active clergy and ministers who 
obtained leave of absence lrorn their home 
duties. Many well-known people gave their 
services for special duties. Professors from the 
Universities lectured on war or literary subjects 
and found eager audiences. Miss Lena Ashwel! 
organized concert parties, which brought keen 
enjoyment and pleasure to the men in the 
huts and in the hospitals. One and all 
roughed it with no thought for the dis- 
comforts of wind, rain, and heat, and the 
long hours. 

The British camps in France not only per- 
mitted the usual features of the work at home — 
such as the religious services, letter -writing, 
games, and " sing-songs " — but afforded many- 

interesting additions. When a British battalion 
arrived at a French port, tired, unwashed 
and unshaven after a rough passage across the 
Channel, they found hot refreshments awaiting 
their purchase. Wearied by the long journey 
over land and sea, they had the chance of a 
rest, and relieved their home -sickness — a feeling 
common to many lads on first landing on a 
foreign soil — by writing home. On such days 
thousands of communications passed through 
the letter-box. 

Under normal conditions a great stream of 
men started daily from the trenches on their 
seven days' furlough. They arrived at. the 
railhead laden with their kit and with the mud 
of the trenches thick upon them. Here they 
foimd the sign of the Red Triangle and secured 
a wash, food and sleep until the leave train 
passed on its way. At the principal stopping- 
places hot refreshments and other necessaries 
could be purchased. 

Another boon was a series of hostels for the 
use of relatives of wounded soldiers. The 
V.M.C.A. gradually increased the number of 
these hostels to eight, and further arranged 
to meet the soldiers' friends at the boat's side 
and motor them direct to the hospital where 

In the reading and writing room. 




A building in Euston Square erected for soldiers. 
Sleeping accommodation was also provided for 
twenty-three men. Circle picture : In a rest hut 
in the Little Theatre, Adelphi. Bottom picture : 
The Dormitory at the Earl Roberts Rest Home, 
King's Cross. 

their husbands, brothers, or other relatives 
were to be found. This assistance was provided 
without a penny of charge to friends of non- 
commissioned officers and men. A beautiful 
villa was rented for the use of officers' relatives, 
where similar accommodation was provided at 
moderate charges in order to cover the cost. 

In various impromptu directions the Y.M.C.A. 
rendered acts of kindness to the wounded. 
The service shown to the Australians at a 
clearing station after one of the " pushes " 
supplied an illustration of the help that the 
Y.M.C.A. was only too eager to offer : 

When we arrived the sight which presented itself to 
us beggars description [ivrote a Y.M.C.A. secretary 1. 
Hundreds of men were lying about everywhere with 
head, leg, and arm wounds, all of which had been 
attended to by the medical staff, the work of which is 
beyond all praise. The men were now waiting the 
arrival of the train which was to convey them to a 
hospital outside the range of guns. They were a cheerful 
crowd, though bearing the unmistakable marks of battle, 
and m-iny of thsm carried trophies captured in the 
fight. . . . The men soon recognized and welcomod 
the Y.M.C.A,, and we were immediately invited to 
write postcards and fill in field cards acquainting the 
people at horn^ of the wounds of which all of them 
were proud. One of the Australian secretaries hastened 
to the Tynemouth hut for cigarettes, as there was a sad 
lack of smokes and money in this company of wounded, 
heroes. . . . When the train arrived our work was by 



no means finished ; men with leg wounds gladly availed 
themselves of the Y.M.C.A. man's shoulder in treading 
the painful path to a carriage door. Postcards had to 
be written even here on the footboards of the train 
and many times a comrade was heard to remark to some 
poor fellow who was struggling with a borrowed pencil 
and field card, " Oh, there is a Y.M.C.A. man there, 
he'll do it for you." 

Both the British and the French authorities 
gave all possible assistance. The former facili- 
tated transport and the latter removed hin- 
drances harassing the workers. A French 
admiral in charge of a port gave instructions 
that the Y.M.C.A. was to be afforded every help 
and not to be delayed by restrictions, even 
though generally necessary. French sentries 
on the roads outside towns became so accus- 
tomed to the red triangle on cars that they 
rarely demanded the production of cards of 
authorization. Those high in authority in 
France watched the enterprise with much 
interest and commenced in an experimental 
manner something similar for their troops. It 
should be remembered that the French 
Y.M.C.A. carried on a small but excellent work 
for the French troops in the Vosges. 

When the King was in France he inspected 
the Y.M.C.A. huts and expressed his 
great pleasure concerning its arrangements. 
In a more formal but equally expressive manner 
he sent the following message to Lord Kinnaird 
on May 26, 1916 : — " His Majesty congratulates 
the Association on the successful results of its 
war work, which has done everything conducive 
to the comfort and well-being of the armies, 
supplying the special and peculiar needs of men 
drawn from countries so different and so distant. 
It has worked in a practical, economical and 
unostentatious manner, with consummate know- 
ledge of those with whom it has to deal. At 
the same time the Association, by its spirit of 
discipline, has earned the respect and approba- 
tion of the Military Authorities." 

If space permitted a story full of daring and 
adventure could be told of the Y.M C.A. work 
on the shell -strewn shores of Gallipoli, of its 
less exciting but equally useful services in 
Malta, and of its much-needed help in Mesopo- 
tamia and East Africa. 

As people realized during the first year of war 
that men on furlough arrived home in the early 
morning at Victoria laden with their com- 
plete kit, and with nowhere to go before the 
trains some six to eight hours later conveyed 
them to their destination, an immediate demand 
arose for more satisfactory arrangements. In 
the majority of cases these soldiers lay about 

the station precincts or tramped right across 
to the northern stations, there to wait until the 
morning. The Y.M.C.A. organized a staff of 
workers who met the leave trains at Victoria 
and conducted the men to a disused brewery in 
Westminster, where they could secure bed and 
refreshments at moderate charges. The build- 
ing did not provide luxurious fittings amidst its 
cavernous depths, but served its purpose. The 
King permitted the use of the Royal Mews at 
Buckingham Palace for the entertainment of the 
men. Refreshments were supplied from the 
Palace kitchen on arrival, and in the morning, 
after a substantial breakfast, the royal carriages 
conveyed them to the various railway stations. 
The King's practical sympathy encouraged 
various developments. The beginnings of this 
service in the Metropolis developed into a net- 
work of agencies, coordinated in a wise and 
statesmanlike manner, in order to cater for the 
wants of the incoming and outgoing soldier. 
The railway stations became the strategic 
points. Not only did the soldier depart from 
London, but he arrived there at all hours of the 
day and night on his way back to France or the 
home camps, and frequently had long and weari- 
some intervals between his journeys. To pro- 
vide shelter for the thousands of men — sailors 
as well as soldiers — using the route to the north, 
or vice versa, the first station hut was erected 
at Euston on ground placed at the disposal of 
the Y.M.C.A. by the directors of the London 
and North-Western Railway. This provided 
sleeping accommodation at moderate prices, 
so that for sixpence a man could obtain a bed 
with clean sheets and everything comfortable. 
If all the beds were engaged, he could secure 
blankets and a shakedown on the floor for two- 
pence. In the morning he purchased his food 
on an equally economical basis, and the advan- 
tages of the club, including books, papers and 
writing materials, were open to him without 
charge, while for a few pence he could enjoy a 
game of billiards. Very often the police 
brought in men the worse for drink who were a 
danger to themselves and who invited punish- 
ment. By tactful handling the Y.M.C.A. 
secretary got them to bed, and in the morning 
they were sober once again and ashamed of the 
trouble they had occasioned. Such services 
explained in part the popularity of the Y.M.C.A. 
amongst the men. 

Similar huts were in due course established 
at King's Cross, Victoria, Waterloo, and Pad- 
dington. As these buildings increased in num- 

An entertainment in a Welsh camp. Smaller picture: At a concert in London. 




bers, various improvements and additions were 
made, such, for instance, as the provision of hot 
baths. This boon proved welcome to the soldier 
from France who had been subject to insect - 
infested billets. Another addition of a prac- 
tical character was the annexe erected at Water- 
loo for the use of soldiers' wives., who frequently 
came to meet their husbands or to witness their 

At Victoria, in addition to a large hut for non- 
commissioned officers and men, a hostel was 
erected in Grosvenor Gardens, only a few 
yards distant from the railway station, for the 
use of commissioned officers. Its control was 
undertaken by the Y.M.C.A., but its erection 
and equipment owed everything to the generous 
cooperation of Mrs. Charles Tufton and her 
friends. This building was a comfortable club, 
where young officers could secure bed and 
breakfast and other meals. It was opened by 
Queen Alexandra. 

Linked up with the station huts the Y.M.C.A, 
presently established still more commodious 


Lady Askwith watching a billiard match at a hut 

in Horseferry Road, Westminster. 

Circle picture : A game at draughts. 

buildings with a greater claim to architectural 
litness in the inner cn-cle of the Metropolis. At 
Aldwych, abutting on the Strand, an exception- 
ally bright and convenient structure was erected 
at a cost of between £7,000 and £8,000. This 
was designed primarily for the requirements of 
overseas troops, but was open to men of other 

A later enterprise was the Shakespeare Hut 
at the rear of the British Museum, which owed 
its inspiration to the Shakespeare Memorial 
Committee and the Tercentenary Committee. 
Naturally it was impossible to devote any por- 
tion of the Shakespeare Memorial Fund to the 
building or equipment, but £1,000 was collected 
for the purpose from the Dean and Chapter of 
Westminster, the Temple Church, University 
College and Bedford College for Women. To- 
wards the £7,000 or £8,000 required £2.000 was 
also received from the New Zealand Y.M.C.A.,. 
and substantial subscriptions came from 
the boroughs of Westminster, Kensington and 
Marylebone. The Shakespeare Hut was ad- 
mirably designed with canteen, billiard room, 
quiet room, verandah and sleeping and bath 
room accommodation. It was probably the best 
of its kind, and the fittings and colouring were 
planned in memory of the groat dramatist who, 
as already indicated, did not receive honour 
from some of the members of the Y.M.C.A. in 
its early days. 


The Y.M.C.A. also transformed the Little 
Theatre in John Street, Adelphi, generously 
placed at its disposal by the landlord, Mr. 
Coutts, into a more or less similar rendezvous. 
Its size and proximity to Charing Cross enabled 
large numbers of men to enjoy the advantages. 
Another development deserves mention here 
because of its effect upon the internal organiza- 
tion of the Y.M.C.A. and the coordinated 
facilities for entertaining the soldier in London. 
Practically speaking, from the start of the 
Y.M.C.A. movement the Central Y.M.C.A. pro- 
vided the metropolitan headquarters. Origin- 
ally this central branch possessed Exeter Hall, 
and whilst using a portion of the building for 
club purposes let the halls for religious and 
philanthropic gatherings. After the death of 
Sir George Williams a new and more convenient 
building was proposed as his fitting memorial. 
Exeter Hall was sold, and at a cost of £100,000 
an island site was purchased in Tottenham Court 
Road and a new Institute was erected. This 
provided the features of a young men's club — 
including lounge, swimming baths, shooting 
gallery, gymnasium — besides being thoroughly 
equipped as an educational and religious centre 
for men. Its management was undertaken by 
Mr. J. J. Virgo, who was specially invited to 
accept the post of secretary because of his 
Australian experiences. The Central Y.M.C.A. 
was entirely responsible for its erection and 
management and the National Council did not 
share either liability or control. The latter 
body had its own headquarters in Russell 
Square in a house (called the Sir George 
Williams' House) presented to it by the 
family of Sir George Williams. When a large 
addition to the clerical staff proved necessary 
the adjoining house was secured and in this 
enlarged building the National Council pursued 
its work until the autumn of 1915 Just before 
this period the two organizations had conducted 
their operations in separate channels, but the 
exigencies of the war suggested cooperation, and 
the respective officers and committee considered 
and approved fresh arrangements for wiser and 
ampler provision on behalf of the soldiers 
Under this scheme the Central Y.M.C.A trans- 
ferred the Tottenham Court Road centre to the 
National Council. This arrangement not only 
coordinated oxisting agencies but provided 
adequate accommodation for the National 
Council staff and enabled this handsome and 
commodious building to be utilized day and 
ni<*'ab for the war work. From this 

period Mr. Virgo becama Field Secretary to the 
National Council and later started on a world 
tour for the advancement of Y.M.C.A. interests. 
With Tottenham Court Road, its station huts, 
and other metropolitan centres, the Y.M.C.A. 
accommodated on an average 7,500 men every 
week in its cubicles. The whole of these huts 
and buildings were connected by the military 
authorities at their request with the telephone, 
so that pressure at one place could frequently be 
relieved by vacant beds at others — each and all 
bearing the description of " ever-open " huts. 
With the assistance of scouting parties supplied 
with motors the streets were scoured for 
soldiers stranded late at night. 

From the headquarters flowed a perennial 
stream of new ideas and activities. En- 
quirers from all parts of the world desired 
particulars of husband, son, brother or friend 
who had been missing in such and such 
engagement. Usually it was the story of 
an officer, non-commissioned man, or private 
who was last seen in attack and no record 
could be obtained concerning his whereabouts. 
Through the good offices of the American 
Y.M.C.A. in Germany, to whom the official list 
of British prisoners in Germany was available, 
immediate steps were taken to get in touch with 
the facts. Again there were difficulties with the 
prisoners' letters, and in many cases it was 
possible to secure an avoidance of delay. On 
other occasions the Y.M.C.A. obtained news 
respecting men who through various reasons 
had not communicated with their friends. An 
oft-repeated request was for a photograph of the 
grave where loved ones lay buried 

Disabled soldiers turned to the Y.M.C.A, after 
their discharge from the Army for assistance in 
securing suitable employment. These inquiries 
suggested an Employment Bureau, and through 
its agency hundreds of men were brought into 
touch with employers and saved from the neces- 
sity of tramping about in search of work. 

A novel method of bridging over the 
period of separation between soldiers and 
their friends was initiated by the Y.M.C.A. 
through its Snapshots League. With simple 
but efficient machinery 1 1,000 amateur photo- 
graphers were enrolled who secured 500,000 
snapshots illustrative of the sailor's or soldier's 
family and friends. This work was performod 
without charge. Men of H.M. Forces were sup- 
plied with forms upon which they stated that 
they desired photos of their wife, parents or 
sweetheart living in the place specified. These 



were returned to the Y.M.C.A. Snapshots 
League, Tot tenham Court Road, and forwarded to 
the, nearest voluntary helper. When the photos 
were prepared the photographer dispatched 
copies in special weatherproof envelopes to the 
soldier in France, Salonika, Egypt or elsewhere. 
The enterprise cost about £10,000, which was 
subscribed privately by those who recognized 
its value and significance. It was also adopted 
by the Y.M.C.A. organizations m Australia, 
New Zealand, South Africa and Bermuda in 
order to perforin for their troops serving under 
the British flag a similar service to that enjoyed 
by the home armies. Throughout the Com- 
monwealth the necessary forms of application 
could be obtained in the Post Offices. 

Through the cooperation of the General 
Council of the Bar and the Council of the Law 
Society arrangements were made for providing 
in the Y.M.C.A. huts free legal advice to non- 
commissioned officers and men in H.M. Forces. 
This help was given by barristers and solicitors 
on active service and confined absolutely to 
civil matters. The Y.M.C.A. stipulated that 
litigation would not be undertaken either at its 

expense or with its help. In special cases the 
men were put into communication with the 
official department at the Royal Courts of 
Justice established under special rules of 

The Navy required the assistance of the 
Y.M.C.A. as much as the Army, though 
the circumstances of its work did not pre- 
sent the same opportunities. To serve the 
sailor on board ship was not yet practicable, 
and therefore the Red Triangle greeted him 
when he came ashore on leave. At places like 
Portsmouth, Chatham, Harwich, Newcastle, 
Rosyth, Cromarty and Invergordon — to name 
a few such centres — the National Council, in 
conjunction with the Scottish Y.M.C.A. (of 
which Sir Andrew Pettigrew was chairman anrl 
Mr. .las. Mackenzie secretary), which was 
responsible for the agencies in the north, made 
provision for naval men. In all essential 
respects the naval and military departments 
were organized on kindred lines. The appre- 
ciation ot officers and men of all ratings in the 
Navy testified to the value of the work. 
Admiral Jellicoe and Admiral Beatty gave 

Turned to good account : A hut erected on an old building site in Kensington. 



every possible facility and supported the 
undertakings both privately and in public. 

During the early days of September, 1914, 
the Y.M.C.A. commenced operations at the 
Crystal Palace for the benefit of lads training 
for the Royal Naval Division. At certain 
periods nine to ten thousand were at the Crystal 
Palace, before being drafted to other spheres of 
action. They were enlisted from the North of 
England, from Wales and the Midlands and 
from many quiet villages, east and west, as well 
as north and south. The opportunities for 
service in this H.M.S. Crystal Palace, as it was 
styled, were therefore considerable. For its 
accommodation the authorities granted the use 
of a large amount of floor space, including the 
Egyptian, Grecian and Roman Courts in the 
centre transept, and later placed at the disposal 
of the Y.M.C.A. the Morocco and Alhambra 
Courts, as well as the North Tower Gardens and 
theatre. The services were varied and in- 
teresting and included quite unconventional 
agencies. Owing to necessity the organization 
acted as washerwoman to thousands of these 
naval men in training. The laundry business 
developed into a great concern and necessitated 
a large staff and a careful methodical system 
in order to avoid confusion and delay, Dut its 

sole genesis was the comfort and convenience 
of the men. 

In ordinary course the naval postman 
delivered the various mails as these arrived at 
the Palace, but in such a huge building the men 
could not be easily found, especially when on 
duty, and letters were frequently delayed in 
consequence. Times of great pressure prevented 
the naval authorities from employing a special 
staff to deal with " dead " letters or parcels. 
To the men, however, these communications 
from their friends were all-important, and much 
relief was experienced when, at the request of 

'J -I 



the officers, the Y.M.C.A. undertook an 
important share of the postal service. During 
twelvemonths the Y.M.C.A. dealt with 1,000,000 
letters and parcels ; the sale of stamps in 
that period was valued at £3,000 and postal 
orders were purchased by the men to the amount 
of £9.000. The Savings Bank possessed, on an 
average, between two and three thousand 
depositors with a substantial amount standing 
to their credit. 

By request also of the officers the Y.M.C.A. 
published a little book at the price of one penny 
enabling particulars to be recorded concerning 
the man's pay, the amount he had received and, 
where necessary, the amount due to the Divi- 
sion. It was of a size made for his cap — the best 
of pockets for a sailor. Concerts and lectures 
were regularly organized in the theatre, and on 
certain evenings, as well as on Sundays, services 
arranged of a definitely religious character. 
Help of a more personal nature was rendered on 
behalf of wives and mothers, who unfailingly 
turned to the Y.M.C.A. in times of necessity. 
Two or three workers attended specially to 
such cases. Parental anxieties were relieved, 
and when the wives of married men did not 
receive regular letters, a tactful word frequently 
pulled them up to the scratch. Thousands of 
men signed temperance and purity j]ledges, and 
every effort was made by the Y.M.C.A. to assist 
the men of the R.N.D. to keep sober and healthy 
for the campaign on which they would enter 
when the period of training was completed. 

The Scottish National Council of Y.M.C.A. 's, 
whose executive worked in conjunction with 
Tottenham Court Road, devoted considerable 
care and thought to the sailors in the northern 
part, of the kingdom, and established naval 
centres at Rosyth, Invergordon, Cromarty, 
and elsewhere. The places at which sailors 
put in for a few hours were but ill provided 
with reasonable means of recreation or enter- 
tainment, and were not designed for a crowd 
of men anxious to make amends for a fairly 
long spell at sea. 

The presence of the Fleet off the coasts of 
Scotland changed the social conditions of many 
northern towns. Little Highland burghs were 
caught up in the machinery of war, and accom- 
modated themselves and their institutions to 
thousands of men passing to and from the ships, 
and to the large staff of artificers engaged on 
repairs and refittings. At one small town, when 
the trams were usually late on the journey up, 
hundreds failed to reach their ships, and had 
to wait until the morning. These situations 
provoked the despair of the provost and leading 
townsmen. Every public building sheltered 
the men, and on occasions even the small lock- 
up with its one or two cells was utilized for the 
purpose of affording relief from the streets, and 
as a protection from the weather. In this 
emergency the Y.M.C.A. came to the rescue. 
Plans were designed for a permanent building 
and obtained the approval of the Admiralty, 
who made a grant for its immediate erection, as 



well as that of the Admirals on the Division. 
Experience quickly showed that the institute 
was too small, and in the course of a few months 
a substantial addition became necessary. Like 
the Y.M.C.A. station huts in the metropolis, 
which were equally open to the sailor, it 
provided rest, refreshment and recreation, and 
gave much satisfaction to the sailors. 

When the cry went up for shells and big 
guns and labour became mobilized in a way 
never before witnessed in England, occasion 
arose for meeting the bed and breakfast require- 
ments of battalions of men posted to districts 
already crowded with workers. Even where 
the question of lodgings presented few diffi- 
culties, the midday meal for thousands of men 
had to be met adequately by outside agencies 
so that localities concerned could be relieved 
of the impossible strain. From the circum- 
stances of its foundation the Y.M.C.A. had 
not received the support of Trade Union 
members to any considerable extent. Until 
the war its operations wre assigned principally 
to the shop assistants, clerks, buyers and 
managers of retail and wholesale houses. It 
possessed a sprinkling of professional men, 
but the working classes were uninfluenced. 
Some of the Y.M.C.A. leaders sought the co- 
operation of the industrial workers, but they 
held aloof and the gulf seemed wide and insur- 
mountable. Temperament and outlook prob- 
ably accounted for this division of interest, which 
grew deeper and wider as the years advanced. 

When the abnormal situation created by 
the enlargement of munition factories became 
acute in various parts of the country the 
Y.M.C.A. had already made good on its war 
work. To the Y.M.C.A., therefore, people 
turned for help on behalf of the munition 
workers, and the Red Triangle responded eagerly 
and willingly. As a rapprochement had been 
established with soldiers and sailors, the 
Y.M.C.A. leaders gladly embraced the oppor- 
tunity of another and unexpected extension of 
their activities. The Munition Workers' Auxi- 
liary Committee was established by Mr. A. K. 
Yapp, the General Secretary, and Princess 
Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein accepted the 
office of president, attending the committee 
meetings with almost invariable regularity, 
and showing the keenest interest in the various 
undertakings. Lord Derby, who had recognized 
the necessity for special voluntary efforts in 
order to deal with the problem, became chair- 
man of the committee. Mr. R. H. Swainson 
was organ zer. Some of the committee became 
responsible for the operations organized in 
important areas. Lady Henry Grosvenor, for 
instance, had charge of the Y.M.C.A. services 
for munition workers at Woolwich, Cra.yford, 
and the adjoining district 1 - ; Mrs. Winston 
Churchill superintended the agencies at Enfield 
Lock and Waltham Cross ; Countess Fitz- 
william supervised the arrangements at Shef- 
field ; Lady Hugh Grosvenor was responsible 
for work in Cheshire ; Mrs. Williams (of Miskin) 




performed a similar duty in connexion with the 
munition centres in South Wales ; and the 
Scottish National Council undertook the ar- 
rangements in Scotland. 

Everything had to be evolved and co- 
ordinated as the circumstances demanded. 
The lady superintendents were responsible for 
securing lady workers and for equipping their 
district centres, even to kitchen utensils, 
cutlery, crockery, and the details incidental to 
supplying heavy meals and sleeping accommo- 
dation. Within a short time they organized 
3,000 ladies who did not receive a penny 
in salary, and where they lived at the 
hostel paid for their mm board and lodging. 
These voluntary helpers performed a variety 
of work, necessitating in many instances night 
shifts or early morning duties. To their tact, 
womanly qualities, and arduous work were 
due the attractiveness, cleanliness and good 
management of the establishments in munition 

At Woolwich, owing to the large influx of 
workers, the question of supplying meals 
became urgent. During the dinner hour every 
public house and refreshment shop was crowded , 
and men often waited in long queues to be 
served. The Y.M.C.A. did not desire to com- 
pete with legitimate trading concerns when 
these met the need, but an impossible situation 
was created, and men and women who worked 
long hours in munition factories could not 
secure nourishing food at moderate prices 
served with some degree of comfort. The 
supply of guns and shells suffered as well as the 
workpeople, and employers and employees 
equally rejoiced when the Y.M.C.A. organized 
a great undertaking. When in full work- 
ing order Lady Henry Grosvenor organized 
20,000 meals every day, the majority of 
which consisted of the heavy midday order. 
For the highly paid operative the popular 
demand was a shilling three-course dinner, of 
excellent quality. An orchestra was provided 
and the diners enjoyed their meal whilst 
listening to a capital musical programme. 
Later it became, necessary to meet the require- 
ments of those who preferred something less 
expensive on the a la carte basis. The men 
who went on night shifts also found their 
wants studied, and in order to serve them a 
staff of ladies worked through the night. 
Inspection of the Woolwich centre satisfied the 
conditions of cleanliness, quality of food, and 
the attractiveness of the general surroundings. 

In the London Dock centres, where Lady 
Askwith was in charge, the labourers appre- 
ciated a sevenpenny dinner of hot meat and 
potatoes supplied in liberal quantities. They 
were accustomed to large portions and did 
not require sweets or coffee. But for the 
Y.M.C.A. Hut they would perforce have had 
to make shift with the helping of cold meat 
and bread carried with them from home in the 
typical red handkerchief. 

Similar provision was made in the provinces 
for the labourer or artisan on war work. Thus 
at Liverpool, where the need existed for can- 
teens on the dock premises, the Dock Board and 
Shipowners' Association formed a company with 
a capital of £10, 000 for the erection of huts, which 
were handed over to the Y.M.C.A. Originally 
the Dock Board subscribed £5,000, but when 
the first two or three buildings proved successful 
the Board immediately doubled the capital. 
Absolute necessity demanded these places of 
rest and refreshment for the dock labourer. 
Some of the eating houses previously fre- 
quented by the men were extremely dirty, and 
they had to be content with indifferent 
food and unpleasant conditions. (n the huts 
by the Liverpool Dock side the equipment was 
clean and the sevenpenny dinners well cooked 
and of the best quality. The result must in the 
majority of instances be credited to the lady 
workers who volunteered from some of the best 
middle-class families in the city of Liverpool, 
and took a regular share of the duty, some 
giving one or two days every week while others 
attended during the whole of the six days. The 
test of the pudding is in the eating. These 
ladies when the dinners were served were con- 
tent to purchase a cut off the joint from 
which the customers had been supplied or a 
helping from the same make of puddings. 
Those competent to judge of the effect of the 
arrangements stated that the men performed 
their heavy work under improved health con- 
ditions, while its volume was greater and there 
was less heavy drinking or striking. The opinion 
of the Liverpool Dock Board and Shipowners' 
Association may be gathered by the readiness 
with which the capital was doubled. 

At Sheffield, Newcastle and elsewhere the 
committees under lady presidents met the 
needs of the workers according to local con- 
ditions. Cast-iron plans were avoided and the 
locality allowed to determine the best way of 
meeting the emergency. At Newcastle, for 
instance, with the cooperation of the firm of 




Opened by Princess Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein 
(in smaller picture) August 11, 1916. 

Sir Wm. Armstrong, Whit worth & Co., the 
Y.M.C.A. served midday meals in a building in 
close proximity to the firm's works. Special 
pro vision was established for the women, who 
came at 12 o'clock and retired from the 
building in time to permit of the male workers 
obtaining their meal. One general rule ob- 
tained in all thess Y.M.C.A. dining rooms — 
cleanliness, quality of food and reasonable 

A more ambitious scheme included hostels 
for the workers where they could not only 
obtain meals but sleeping accommodation 
and the usual recreative and other attrac- 
tions. Owing to the abnormal conditions 
lodgings were difficult if not impossible to 
obtain by the man suddenly dumped down in 
a district many miles from his home ties. 
Where obtainable the bedroom often proved 
unsatisfactory owing to the crowded state of the 
dwelling. Scores of cases occurred of landladies 
letting the bedroom in turn throughout the 
whole 24 hours. Men had either to endure such 
places or seek quarters several miles distant 
from the factory. The latter course involved 

tiresome journeys after long hours and an 
absence of comfort or home life during the meal- 
times. To meet an unquestioned need the 
Y.M.C.A. initiated an experimental scheme at 
Enfield by which the workers could live under 
healthier and pleasanter conditions. This 
developed in many other districts. At Enfield 
it provided for the erection of wooden huts with- 
in easy distance of the factories as sleeping 
quarters, so that the worker could secure a 
small but clean and convenient cubicle to his 
own use. He had a comfortable bed, clean 



sheets, a box for his clothes, the vise of baths and 
other necessaries. In close proximity to the 
cubicles a common hall was erected for meals, 
recreations and letter writing. The food was 
well cooked and served by lady helpers on 
dainty-looking tables always bright with freshly 
cut flowers. For an inclusive sum (averaging 
usually about 20s.) per week the munition 
worker secured full board, lodging and washing. 
Moreover, he enjoyed many club facilities 
impossible in the ordinary private lodgings. 
Without leaving the common hall he could play 
billiards, listen to the concert or write his 

Employers recognized the advantages offered 
by the hostel and in many instances contributed 
liberally to its equipment. According to the 
conditions for the assessment of war profits the 
Exchequer sanctioned the payment of a certain 
proportion to schemes for the betterment of 
their employees. Advantage was taken of this 
arrangement, for instance, by Messrs. Stewart 
& Lloyd, of Glasgow, who financed the whole 
requirements of a hostel for their workers 
situated close to their factory. 

Lady Hugh Grosvenor undertook the charge 
of a small garden city in Cheshire which 
developed through the generosity of Messrs. 
Hrunner, Mond & Co., who were engaged on war 
work. In order to meet the needs of their 
employees, many of whom had been brought 
from the front, provision was made for 500 
cubicles erected in blocks and fitted with 
baths and washhouses. The club accommo- 
dation for meals, games, lectures and con- 
certs was excellent, whilst the kitchen equip- 
ment was equal to that of a first-class restaurant. 
Lady Hugh Grosvenor and her staff of lady 
workers made an innovation at this centre by 
the supply of hot midday meals carried to the 
works two or three miles distant for those res ; - 
dents who could not return to the hostel fcr 
dinner. Those who visited this large hostfl 
were delighted with the artistic fittings and the 
bright and attractive curtains which guarded 
the place from any susjjicion that it was a poor- 
law institution or an ordinary philanthropic 

The munition worker received his money's 
worth, plus sympathy and cooperation, and 
whilst he was a customer he had a personal 
relationship to the whole undertaking. The 
Y.M.C.A. did not attempt to pauperize him, but 
ran the enterprise on business lines, charging 
against it a fair interest on capital expenditure. 

The profits were not devoted to the general work 
of the Y.M.C.A. but placed to a fund for the 
betterment of the institute itself. Moreover, he 
was not badgered with religion. It was there all 
the time, and probably he remained conscious 
of the fact, but its influences were pervasive 
rather than aggressive. He was taught to 
realize that Christianity was making its con- 
tribution to the requirements of the war by the 
provision of the hostel. Mr. Lloyd George, who 
was then Minister of Munitions, visited several 
of the Y.M.C.A. hostels, and expressed his warm 
approval of the arrangements. By friendly 
arrangement, the Young Women's Christian 
Association undertook the provision of huts and 
equipment for the women workers, and places 
started by the Y.M.C.A. were later handed over 
to this organization in order to create a proper 
division of labour between the two Associations. 

The linking up of the Mother Country and the 
Overseas Dominions to face a common foe 
showed the necessity for fresh efforts. The 
first contingent to reach England preparatory 
to service in France was that from Canada. 
Thirty thousand strong, it proceeded to 
Salisbury Plain for training. The Canadian 
Y.M.C.A. obtained permission from the Cana- 
dian Militia Department for seven secretaries to 
accompany the Expeditionary Force. With the 
idea of facilitating military discipline, they 
received honorary rank as captain and wore 
officer's uniform, but did not perform military 
duties, and were quite free in carrying on social, 
religious and recreational work amongst the 
Canadians. When the first division proceeded 
to France in 1915 it was accompaned by five 
secretaries. The second Canadian contingent 
arrived in the spring of the same year with six 
secretaries, five of whom crossed to France when 
the training of this division was completed. 
Another five secretaries came over with the 
third division and the whole of these went to the 
front. Fifteen Y.M.C.A. secretaries were there- 
fore in association with the Canadian Divisions 
in France, and later a score of secretaries arrived 
from Canada to meet the requirements of 
Dominion soldiers in English camps, whilst 
retaining fifty Y.M.C.A. centres in Canada for 
the troops still under training. 

Opinions varied concerning the honorary 
rank of the Canadian Y.M.C.A. secretary and 
whether he could perform his duty with greater 
success than the British Y.M.C.A. worker who 
remained a civilian. The rank possessed some 
compensations mixed with disadvantages. But, 



■officer or civilian, British or Canadian, the 
Y.M.C.A. methods remained much the same. 

Reference should here be made to the con- 
nexion between the Canadians and the Y.M.C.A. 
at home. When the first Canadian Division 
reached Salisbury Plain the parent branch 
prepared for their entertainment some of the 
earliest huts used in this country. Their letters 
for home were written in these buildings. At 
night they gathered round the piano and sang 
" The Maple Leaf." Faraway from shops, they 
besieged the counter for necessaries, including 
cough mixtures and oil stoves. By this time the 
Plain was soaked with the late autumn rains, 
and they required much ingenuity to keep the 
bell tents dry and no little persistence and 
patience to exorcise the colds and coughs that 
infected almost the whole division. The 
Y.M.C.A. hut was the one warm, light and 
cheery place in the whole camp, and the 
Canadian appreciated the contrast. Lord 
Roberts wrote to the Y.M.C.A. on the day he 
left England for France — four days before he 
passed away — as follows : " Lord Roberts 
hears nothing but praise for what the Y.M.C.A. 
is doing at the various camps. The latest tribute 
he has received is from the Canadian contingent, 
who, when he inspected the men on Salisbury 
Plain, said that they did not know what they 
would have done without the facilities afforded 
them by the accommodation provided by the 
Y.M.C.A." On behalf of the 13th Battalion 
Royal Highlanders of Canada the captain and 
adjutant wrote as follows : " Allow me to 
express our appreciation of the hospitality 
shown by the Y.M.C.A. to us as individuals and 
as a regiment. Many members of the regiment 

have benefitted by hours spent in your tents, 
and the accommodation granted us by you has 
made our weekly church parade possible." 

By September 1, 1914, 70 to 80 transports 
were on their way from Australia and at 
frequent intervals during the progress of the war 
continued to arrive. In January, 1915, these 
troops took part in the defence of Egypt and 
in April proceeded to Gallipoli, where with the 
New Zealanders they performed brilliant and 
daring feats which brought them deathless 
renown. Their own Y.M.C.A. secretaries were 
permitted to accompany the troopships, and 
later were asked to go forward to Gallipoli, 
where they experienced similar adventures 
and dangers to those of the men. Australia 
and New Zealand always encouraged the 
Y.M.C.A. movement. The large buildings 
erected in the principal cities and the confidence 
shown in this enterprise by the governing and 
commercial classes evidenced that the Y.M.C.A. 
before the war represented something that 
was more important and essential to the 
Commonwealth than the Y.M.C.A. at home 
ap]oeared to the British people. Even at the 
period of the Boer War the Australian Y.M.C.A. 
secretaries accompanied the troops to South 
Africa, and during peace times met the needs 
of the Volunteers in their annual encampments 
much in the same manner as in Great Britain. 

The stay of the Anzacs in Egypt, however, 
revealed the weakness of the Y.M.C.A. terri- 
torial divisions during a great emergency. 
The Australian and New Zealand secretaries, 
in the absence of mutual arrangements, kept 
naturally to their own patch until the situation 
was reviewed in the light of new circumstances. 




From that period Australia and New Zealand, 
the American Y.M.C.A. at Cairo, and the 
British Y.M.C.A. joined hands and promoted 
a National Y.M.C.A. Council for Egypt. This 
fact indicated the trend of events and proved 
one of the strongest arguments for the inter- 
dependence and cooperation of the whole 
Empire Y.M.C.A. movement. When in the 
beginning of 1916 the Anzacs were fighting 
on the Western Front they enjoyed the hos- 
pitality of the British Y.M.C.A., who by that 
time were pushing their huts and marquees 
nearer to the firing line. Later on thousands 
came over for training in the home camps, and 
at places like Salisbury Plain found large 
centres organized for their comfort and recrea- 
tion as well as for moral and religious assist- 
ance. Diu-ing this stage no fewer than 4,000 
Anzacs poured into the Metropolis for week- 
end furloughs. To a great extent it was 
an aimless throng with little idea of the where- 
abouts of notable or historic sights and buildings 
and yet desirous of seeing something. By com- 
bination of the home and overseas Y.M.C.A. 
staffs, a system of personally conducted tours 
was arranged, which avoided dangers to the 
health of the men and worked to their pleasure 
and advantage. 

In staff and policy the Indian Y.M.C.A. 
National Council always maintained a high 
level. This was due partly to cosmopolitan en- 
vironment and in some measure to the condi- 
tions under which it commenced operations. 
It sought, for instance, to influence the highly- 
educated young Hindus and Mahomedans to 
an appreciation of Christianity as well as to 
make provision for the Englishman in the 
Civil Service or engaged in banking and com- 
mercial houses. Many of the Indian Y.M.C.A. 
secretaries were University men who had 
studied Indian thought and literature. They 
engaged in notable social experiments, and whilst 
remaining true to their primary religious aim 
endeavoured to introduce improved methods 
of agriculture, seed-growing, and the better 
breeding of cattle amongst the agricultural 
classes. They also sought the advancement 
of cottage industries and the development of 
the cooperative credit movement. In these 
objects considerable success followed their 

efforts, so that on the outbreak of hostilities, 
the Indian Y.M.C.A. enjoyed a position of 
confidence and appreciation on the part of the 

For the purposes of the war the Indian 
National Council set free some of its trained 
secretaries, including Mr. Oliver McCowen, 
LL.B., who, as already mentioned, took 
charge of the Y.M.C.A. operations in France 
and Mr. Wilson who went to Salonika. 
Others served in France, Mesopotamia, 
and British East Africa. A section of 
the men devoted themselves to the social 
necessities of the Indian troops who arrived 
in France, having accompanied them from 
India. Tins arrangement was made on the 
distinct understanding with the authorities — 
and duly and strictly observed — that prosely- 
tizing should not be attempted. These Indian 
Y.M.C.A. secretaries rendered a variety of 
personal services, such, for instance, as visiting 
wounded men in hospital, writing letters to 
their homes, the erection of huts or marquees 
for games, the arrangement of tea parties — an 
innocent form of pleasure much enjoyed by 
the Indian soldier — and similar acts of sym- 
pathy and hospitality. 

The depletion of staff in India which followed, 
received compensation by the services of Rev. 
Dr. Moulton of Manchester, Dr. T. R. Glover 
of Cambridge, and several clergymen, ministers 
and young Divinity students from England 
and Scotland. Some of these men delivered 
lectures on religious and other subjects, with 
reference to the war and its lessons, for the 
benefit of the highly educated Hindus and 
Mahomedans. Others devoted themselves 
to the ordinary Y.M.C.A. organization. Not 
the least valuable part of the war contribution 
made by the Indian National Council was its 
endeavour to afford the thousands of Terri- 
torials, sent to India on the outbreak of war, 
an opportunity of visiting some of its historic 
sights and of appreciating the material and 
social advantages of British rule in the Great 
Dependency. For the most part these Terri- 
torials were untravelled, and their stay in India, 
through the assistance of the Y.M.C.A., 
became educational and formative in its 
character and influence. 



Survey of the Second Phase of General Brusiloff's Offensive — General Lesh's Advance 
on the Lower Styr — The Battle on the Stokhod — General Sakharoff's Advance south- 
west of Lutsk — The Battle of Mikhailovka — The Battle on the Lipa — The Battle for 
Brody — The Advance against the Lvoff — Tarnopol Railway— General Lechitsky's 
Campaign — Its Objectives — The Capture of Kolomea and the Cutting of the Stanislavoff- 
Marmaros Sziget Railway' — The Fall of Stanislavoff and the Capture of a Dniester 
Crossing — Count Bothmer's Retreat and General Shcherbacheff's Advance in the Centre 
— Changes in the Higher Commands of the Austro-German Armies south of the Marshes. 

ON June 4 the Russian armies had 
broken through the enemy lines in 
Volhynia and on the Bukovinian 
frontier. What the first phase of 
the great Russian offensive in the summer of 
1916 accomplished was to develop these suc- 
cesses within the districts in which they had 
been achieved. Lutsk and Dubno were re- 
covered ; the battle -lino was advanced within 
some 40 miles of Kovel and Vladimir-Volynsk, 
and within less than 10 miles of Brody. Almost 
all the ground gained in Volhynia between 
June 4-15 was maintained against a most 
violent Austro-German counter-offensive car- 
ried on throughout the second half of the 
month. South of the Dniester our Allies con- 
quered in not quite three weeks practically 
the whole of the Bukovina, and extended their 
lines into south-eastern Galicia, beyond 
Sniatyn and Kuty. These territorial gains 
were accompanied by crushing military defeats 
of the enemy ; two Austro-Hungarian armies, 
that of Archduke Joseph-Ferdinand in Vol- 
hynia, and that of General von Pflanzer-Baltin 
in the Bukovina, lost more than half their 
effectives, and also the other three Austro- 
German armies operating south of the Pripet 
Marshes (the Third Austro-Hungarian Army, 
Vol. IX.— Part 110. 201 

under General Puhallo von Brlog, on the 
Lower Styr; the Second Austro Hungarian 
Army, under General von Boehm-ErmoDi, on 
the Brody-Tarnopol, and the Army of General 
Count Bothmer, on the Tarnopol-Butchatch 
front) suffered very severe losses. The Petro- 
grad official eoimnunique of June 27 stated that 
the prisoners and trophies captured by the 
armies of General Brusiloff between June 4-23 
amounted to 4,031 officers, 194,041 men, 219 
guns, besides 644 machine-guns, 196 bomb 
mortars, 146 artillery ammunition wagons and 
38 searchlights. 

The enormous importance of the Russian 
victories of June, 1916, as a step in the attrition 
of the enemy forces was patent ; the losses 
suffered by the enemy on the Eastern front 
during those three weeks were about equal to 
those he had suffered at Verdun in 130 days 
of fighting. Still, all that the Russians had 
accomplished so far in the field left more to be 
done. The Austro-German front south of the 
Marshes had been pierced, but it was not as 
yet broken up to the extent of necessitating a 
general retreat. In the course of the War 
both sides had had to learn that where the 
greatest nations of the world are fighting, it 
takes much to render a victory final and a 



Russian Officers and peasants watching a battle. 

decision irreversible. Each side had passed 
through defeats and recoveries. Was a new 
recover}' on the Eastern front still possible, for 
the Central Powers ? This was the question 
which had to be answered by the second and 
third phase of the fighting between the Pripet 
Marshes and the Carpathian Mountains. 
Generalship and available reserves were the 
factors in its solution. In the first phase of 
the offensive our Allies had gained two salients 
— in Volhynia and in the Bukovina. But as 
much as ''nature abhors a vacuum" the strategy 
of railway and trench warfare abhors salients. 
Was the approximately straight line to be 
regained by the flattening out of the Russian 
salients or by a completion of the Russian 
advance ? The battles on the Lower Styr, on 
the and the Tlumatch lines, 
the fall of Brody and Stanislavoff, and finally 
the retreat of Count Bothmer's Army in the 
centre supplied the answer to that question. 
They constitute the second phase of the great 
Russian offensive of 1916. 

Towards the end of June, four divisions 
could be distinguished south of the Marshes : 

(1) In the extreme north, on the Lower 
Styr, between the Pripet Marshes and the 

district of Kolki, the enemy front had remained 
practically intact. 

(2) Between Kolki and Novo-Alexiniets (on 
the Galician border), on a stretch of about 80 
miles, the enemy front had been knocked in, 
the line now forming an enormous salient 
toward the west, in some sectors as much as 
45 miles deep. 

(3) Between Novo-Alexiniets and Visnio- 
vtehyk, on a front of about 40 miles, the enemy 
lines were again practically intact, and even 
in the sector between Visniovtchyk and the 
Dniester, the regression of the Austro-German 
forces was as yet slight. 

(4) South of the Dniester the defences of the 
enemy had been completely broken up and our 
Allies were advancing in full force to the west, 
against Kolomea and the Carpathian passes. 

The centre in the Sereth-Strypa sector formed 
the pivot of the Germanic defences south of 
the Marshes. It was based on a strong river 
line, on which like beads on a string one might 
see numerous villages and manors, each of thein 
transformed into a small fortress. On a 
stretch of about 50 miles it was connected with 
the west by no less than four railway lines. Its 
right flank was covered by the Dniester, and 



although our Allies had crossed the Lower 
Strypa round Butchatch and were approaching 
the line of the Koropiets, Bothmer's position in 
the centre was not really outflanked as long 
as he maintained his hold on the Dniester 
crossings. Below Nizhnioff the difficult nature 
of the Dniester belt prevented the Russian Army 
on the southern bank of the river from making 
its pressure seriously felt in the right flank of 
Count Bothmer's Army. The left flank of the 
Austro-German centre on the line Brody- 
Zalostse was protected by an exceedingly 
strong front of hills, marshy rivers, ponds and 
thick forests. Finally the existence of a series 
of excellent lines of defence in the rear of the 
Strypa front, along the many parallel northern 
confluents of ■ the Dniester, allowed Bothmer 
to hang on to his original positions to the 
last moment ; he knew that he could always 
effect his retreat by short and quick move- 
ments without any danger of being cut off. 
His position would then resemble that of the 
Russians in the late summer of 1915 when 
they slowly retreated through Eastern Galicia, 
fighting stubborn rearguard actions, after they 
had already been outflanked in all appearance 
both south of the Dniester and in Volhynia. 
But as long as the centre held out, all hope of 

a recovery on tho Eastern front was not lost 
for tho Central Powers. Their first effort to 
re-establish their line was by a counter-offensive 
against the northern flank of the Volhynian 
salient, in the region between the Stokhod and 
the Styr. An attempt was made by the 
Germans to cut in at its base in the sector where 
they were still holding the line of tho Styr or 
its neighbourhood. A successful thrust across 
the river in that region would have forced a 
general Russian retreat in Volhynia. The 
German counter-offensive, which was developed 
and defeated in the second half of June, was 
followed up by tho Russians by an attack 
against the German positions on the Lower 
Styr. In the course of June the Army of 
General Lesh had been brought south, across 
the Marshes, thus enabling General Kaledin to 
concentrate his forces in the Lutsk salient. 
On July 4 General Lesh opened a brilliant 
advance on both sides of the Kovel-Sarny 
railway. The line of the Stokhod, in that 
sector some 30 miles to the west of the Styr, 
was reached in the course of a few days. The 
northern flank of General Kaledin's Army was 
now completely covered. The longitude of 
Lutsk was passed by the Russian troops and the 
Volhynian triangle of fortresses ceased to form 


l.i;-i '•'• •' ' '"HiiB W 

• - **iT .,1,", v* 

/ -A 


■*.'•' % - ."' ' ■ wK"" - i.i~'& WKk Mnfi 


- . ■ "■JW*ite^H! i **S8ff , Jt'''i 



View of the Austrian entanglements showing the effects of artillery fir 














a salient. North of it " the problem of the 
straight line " was thus settled in favour of our 
Allies. The enemy was definitely thrown back 
on to the defensive, and the battle for Kovel 
now developed on the entire Stokhod line, from 
Kisielin to Stobychva. 

The next attempt at a countor-offensive was 
planned by the enemy against the southern 
flank of the Volhynian salient. Big forces 
were collected north of the Galician frontier, 
between the Upper Styr and the Bug. The 
attack was timed for July 18. It was fore- 
stalled by General Sakharoff, who on July 16 
opened a new offensive against the Austro- 
German lines. In a week's fighting he dashod 
all chances and hopes of the enemy of being 
able to regain the initiative in that region. 
Then, after a few days' lull in the fighting, 
General Sakharoff opened in full force his 
own offensive. On July 28 his troops entered 
Brody. The Lutsk salient was thus being 
extended to the south, its left wing was moving 
forward Then, in the first days of August, 
followed an offensive against the right flank of 
the German centre. The Russian troops were 
approaching the first-class railway leading from 
Lvoff by Tarnopol to Odessa, the most impor- 
tant line of communication of Count Bothmer's 
Army. By August 9 the Russians stood 
within striking distance of that railway. The 
problem of the Lutsk salient was solved also 
on its southern flank. A straight line was being 
gradually established at the expense of the 

In the southern theatre of war, between the 
Dniester and the Carpathian Mountains, 
General Lechitsky continued after the fall of 
Czernovitz his rapid advance to the west. On 
June 29 his troops entered Kolomea, on July 4 
they cut the Stanislavoff-Vorokhta-Marmaros 
Sziget railway in the district of Mikulitchin. 
Then after a month's lull in the fighting, in the 
beginning of August, General Lechitsky's Army 
entered Stanislavoff and captured the Dniester 
crossing at Nizhnioff. 

Count Bothmer's Army in the centre was 
thereby effectively outflanked from the south. 
Its communication with the west by the so- 
called Transversal Railway (the line which runs 
through Galicia east and west at the foot of the 
Carpathians and is the base of the lines across 
those mountains) was cut, whilst General Sak- 
haroff had got within reach of the Lvoff- 
Odessa railway. The retreat of the " German 
Army of the South " could not be delayed any 

longer. Two days after Genoral Lechitsky's 
troops had entered Stanislavoff, those of 
General Shcherbacheff's Army were in posses- 
sion of the whole length of the Sereth-Strypa 
front which the Austro-German armies had 
held for the last 11 months and which 
they had defended with the most desperate 
stubbornness during the preceding 10 weeks of 
the Russian offensive. 

With the retreat of the enemy on to the 
Zlota Lipa the last sector of the original front 
south of the Marshes passed into the hands of 
our Allies. A new approximately straight line 
was established. North of the Dniester it 
extended about 20-45 miles east of the original 
positions ; south of the river the Russian pro- 
gress reached an average of over 60 miles. As 
in the Russian retreat of 1915, so also in their 
advance of 1916, the movements were slowest 
in the centre in Podolia, more rapid in Volhynia, 
quickest of all in the corridor between the 
Dniester and the Carpathians. Of the three 
vital centres behind the original Austro- 
German f ront — Kovel, Lvoff and Stanislavoff — 
only the last was captured by our Allies. Still, 
that capture was of capital importance. For 
during the lull which intervened between the 
second and the third phase of the offensive, a 
new Ally joined Russia in the attack against 
Transylvania. On August 27 Rumania de- 
clared war on Austria-Hungary with a view to 
liberating her kinsmen from a 'oreign yoke. 

Whilst north of the Marshes the great battle 
was raging round Baranovitche, and on the 
northern flank of the Lutsk salient the Germans 
were exhausting their forces in fruitless 
attacks against the Gruziatyn-Rozhyshche 
front, in his own unmistakable style General 
Brusiloff carried out another offensive stroke. 
This time the blow was delivered on the Lower 
Styr, in the southern Poliesie, between the 
Pripet Marshes and the Volhynian theatre of 
war. Carefully prepared beforehand, and ex- 
ecuted with the suddenness and vigour character- 
istic of General Brusiloff's strategy, the advance 
from the Styr to the Stokhod, on a front of 
35 to 40 miles, and to a depth of about 25 miles, 
was achieved in four days, across ground 
which before the war would have been con- 
sidered altogether impracticable for big mili- 
tary operations. In the gigantic drama which 
unfolded itself on the Eastern front in tha 
summer of 1916, these operations tended to sink 
to the level of a minor episode ; before tha 





attention of the public had had time to con- 
centrate on the activities of General Lesh's 
army, its advance had been completed. And 
yet this battle in the southern fringes of the 
Pripet Marshes marks one of the strides of the 
Russian giant -nation on its path to victory. 

Only the barest outlines of General Lesh's 
offensive can be gathered from the Russian 
official communiques The Petrograd report 
of July 4 gave the first intimation of a new 
battle developing on the Lower Styr. It 
recorded Russian gains on both sides of the 
Kovel-Sarny railway, in the districts of Vulka 
( laluzyiskaya and of Kolki, the one about 
twelve miles to the north-west, and the 
other about the same distance to the south- 
west of Tchartoryisk. The advanced angle 
which the enemy positions formed in this 
district was thus subjected to a concentric 
attack. The next day further progress was 
reported in both directions. " In the region 
of Vulka Galuzyiskaya," says the Russian 
communique, of July 5, " we broke through 
three lines of barbed wire entanglements 

fitted with land mines. In a very desperate 
fight on the Styr, west of Kolki, we over- 
threw the enemy and took over a thousand 
prisoners, including 170 officers, together 
with 3 guns, 17 machine guns, 2 searchlights, 
and several thousand rifles. The bridging 
detachment lent the troops most useful aid, 
keeping pace with the fighting units and 
working close to the firing line." 

The report of July enumerated further 
captures of men and material effected in the 
fighting, which by then had reached the region 
of Kostiukhnovka in the north, and had 
extended beyond Raznitse on the southern side 
of the Tchartoryisk salient. 

Whilst from the direction of Kolki the ad- 
vance was carried on due north, the Russian 
troops which had crossed the Styr below 
Rafalovka were changing their direction from 
west to south-west. The Petrograd communi- 
que, of July 7 reported the capture of the villages 
of Grady and Komaroff south of the Kovel- 
Sarny railway, and the forcing of organized 
°nemy positions on the Galuzya-Optova- 



Voltchesk line north of that railway ; finally an 
advance of Russian cavalry resulting in the 
occupation of the railway-station of Manie- 
vitche. These operations, carried out on con- 
centric lines with extraordinary speed and 
precision, led to the capture of thousands of 
prisoners and of numerous guns (e.g., near 
Voltchesk the Russian cavalry took an entire 
Krupp battery of six guns which had fired only 
a few shots). By July 7 the two concentric 
movements resulted in a junction of the forces. 
The Russian communique issued early on July 8 
marks the re-establishment of a straight front 
facing west ; the line mentioned in the report 
runs from Gorodok and Manievitche in the 
north, through Okonsk and Zagarovka to Kolki. 
Simultaneously with the news of this advance 
towards and beyond the Kovel-Sarny railway, 
the first mention was made of another offen- 
sive developing almost in the thick of the 
Marshes. As a matter of fact, this was not 
a new movement ; on the same day on which 
the first enemy positions had been forced near 
Volka Galuzyiskaya and near Kolki, our Allies 
had begun to advance also on the Yeziertsky- 
Novo Tcherevishche line. These operations 
now resulted in the capture of Griva and 
Leshnevka. The important road which crosses 
the River Stokhod at Novo Tcherevishche 

and leads by Manievitche to Kolki, was now, 
west of the Stokhod, in the hands of our Allies. 
" General Brusiloff's troops," says the Petro- 
grad communique issued on the night of July 8, 
" are approaching the Stokhod, routing the 
enemy everywhere, in spite of his desperate 
resistance." In the next few days they not 
merely reached but even crossed the river. 
The three days' battle between the Styr and 
Stokhod was terminated, the subsequent 
operations of General Lesh's Army merging 
with those of General Kaledin's right wing and 
centre into the battle for Kovel. 

The Russian communique, published on the 
night of July 8, summarizes in terms of captures 
the results of General Lesh's advance : " Ac- 
cording to an apjDroximate estimate in the 
course of fighting between the Styr and the 
Stokhod from July 4 to 7 we took prisoners at 
least 300 officers, including two regimental 
commanders, and about 12,000 unwounded men, 
and we also captured not fewer than 45 guns, 
heavy and light, about 45 machine-guns, and a 
large quantity of shells, cartridges, arms, 
supplies and forage. ' ' Nor could the enemy any 
longer hide the fact of his defeat. " The angle 
projecting towards Tchartoryisk, owing to 
superior pressure on its flank near Kostiukh- 
novka and west of Kolki was given up and a 

A halt to examine wounds. 



shorter defensive line was chosen," ran the 
Berlin report of July 7 — brief, harsh and un- 
pleasant. Vienna on the other hand showed 
terrified courtesy for its allies, more pity for 
itself, and even less regard to truth. Another 


Wounded Russians and Austrians waiting for the 
ambulances. Smaller picture : Lady Muriel Paget 
working at a field hospital on the Russian front. 

part of the line which the Germans had left 
mainly in the care of their Austrian allies was 
gone ! Their elaborately embroidered version 
of the three disastrous days in the southern 
Poliesie ran as follows : " The troops fighting in 
the Styr salient, north of Kolki, which through 
four weeks have been holding their own against 
enemy fighting forces which increased to a 
superiority of from three to five-fold, received 
instructions yesterday to withdraw their first 
lines, which were exposed to being surrounded 
on two sides. Favoured by the arrival of 
German troops to the west of Kolki and by the 
self-sacrificing attitude of the Polish Legion near 
Kolodye, the movement was carried out 
without any disturbance on the part of the 

The Russian official reports, in their extreme, 
matter-of-fact brevity, yielded but the dry bones 
of the events and even so supplied only parts of 
the skeleton ; published whilst the struggle was 
still in progress, they had to be most particular 
in the choice of information to be given out tu 
the world. Knowledge recalling these events to 
a new life has to be gathered from other sources. 



In the course of June, whilst General Kaledin 
was first advancing, and then defending his gains 
in Volhynia, the army of General Lesh, which 
had previously stood north of Pinsk, was 
transferred across the Marshes, taking over 
from the Eighth Russian Army the sector on 
the Lower Styr. It was faced by the Third 
Austro-Hungarian Army of General Puhallo, 
which included, among others, the army corps 
of General von Fath and the Polish Legions 
luider General Puchalski round Kolodye, 
opposite Rafalovka. In the early days of the 
Russian offensive only feint attacks had been 
made by our allies on the Lower Styr, below 
Kolki. Spring was very late in 1910, and 
in the first days of June the ground and roads 
were not as yet sufficiently dry to admit 
of any important operations in that classical 
land of birch and pine forests, bogs and 
marshes. In the few encounters which occurred 
in it in June the percentage of " missing " was 
unusually high on both sides ; most of these 
were the men, very often wounded men, 
who found their death in the treacherous 

The enemy reserves in the East were never 
abundant from the time when, in disregard 
of the requirements of the Russian front, the 

Germans had begun to squander their divi- 
sions at Verdun, and the Austrians had con- 
centrated all their available forces on the 
Italian front. Whatever reinforcements had 
been brought up after the. disastrous defeats 
in Volhynia and in the Bukovina were 
used to fill the gaps caused by the mass sur- 
renders or were formed at chosen points into 
phalanxes for counter-offensi\e movements. 


Russian Cossacks outside a dressing-station waiting for attention. Smaller picture : Austrian 

prisoners carrying a wounded comrade. 

























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In the first days of July tho attention of the 
German commanders was concentrated on 
Baranovitche and the Middle Styr. The district 
on the Lower Styr below Kolki was to some 
extent neglected. Its reserves consisted of a 
single Bavarian division ; and even the dis- 
position of whatever forces there were, seems to 
have been made on a wrong assumption. 
Russian attacks were expected on the higher 
ground round Tchartoryisk, in the vicinity of 
the Kovel-Sarny railway. Once more the mili- 
tary intelligence of our Allies and their skill in 
masking their own movements and hiding their 
intentions from their opponents proved superior 
to those of the enemy, much of the superiority 
attained in reconnoitring in the Poliesie being 
due to the self-sacrificing devotion of the Little 
Russian peasantry inhabiting these regions. 

Between Komaroff and Vulka Galuzyiskaya 
extends a wide, low, sandy plain, so flat as to 
hamper observation. Whenever observations 
could not be made by means of balloons 
the direction of the artillery fire proved very 
difficult. Across the plain the opposing 
fronts formed continuous lines, although 
their organization could hardly be described as 
equal to the average obtaining under normal 
topographical conditions. In many parts the 
wet, sandy soil did not admit of deep earthworks 
and dug-outs. 

North of the plain traversed by the Kovel- 
Sarny railway, between Galuzya and Nobel, the 
positions no longer formed a continuous front, 
most of the ground being completely impassable 
during by far the greater part of the year. 
" Here in the Poliesie," wrote M. Sumskoy in 
the Russlcoye Slovo of July 17-30, " there is no 
continuous front, but merely a series of forts, 
scattered almost as on a chess-board. And each 
such fort by itself represents an entire history 
of technical craft, containing a number of 
ingenious devices calculated to render them 
strong with the smallest possible use of human 
force." Each isolated fort was dressed in 
" shirts of iron and steel," surrounded by 
barriers, obstacles and pitfalls such as no 
imagination had ever invented in ancient 
legends of enchanted, unapproachable castles. 
The forts were naturally placed on higher 
ground, the only spots capable of bearing 
human habitations. The tracks leading to 
them across the marshes were limited in 
number. The approaches were protected by 
strong barriers lavishly covered with barbed 
wire. In some places even a peculiar kind 

of net was used, incandescent when cut, 
and thus at night signalling movements of 
the enemy. As far as weapons were con- 
cerned, here, as everywhere in the Austro- 
Gerinan lines, machine-guns, cleverly placed 
and carefully hidden, played the most important 

Inside the settlements everything had been 
re-arranged by the Germans, who garrisoned 
most of the ground in the thick of the Marshes, 
so that the Russians should not be able to 
direct their artillery fire by their previous 
knowledge of the country. But it was 
not merely for their safety that the Germans 
took careful thought. Nice little gardens, 


pleasure-grounds, and even tennis-courts were 
laid out in those settlements ; whatever 
fields there were around, were tilled. The 
scattered forts were connected with one 
another by a well-developed net of telegraph 
and telephone lines, and the whole system 
had light field-railways for its backbone. 
Most of the native population had left with 
the Russians ; yet a certain number had 
remained behind, many of them without the 
knowledge of the German invaders. They 
were roaming about the forests, across paths 
and by means known only to themselves. 
They were slipping through the meshes of the 
network of enemy forts and carrying inforina- 



Captured on the Galician front. 

tion to the army which was to reconquer for 
them their homes and liberate their country 
from the invader. In some places they formed 
themselves into bands, conducting guerilla 
warfare. The services rendered by these 
men to the Russian intelligence service were 
simply invaluable. Raids in this district 
had been proceeding throughout the winter, 
and some were carried out even in May and 
June, 1916. Yet the actual Russian advance 
tlirough the region of forts could only be 
effected as an operation subsidiary to the main 
movement across the Manievitche-Tchartoryisk 
plain, of which the milestones are named in the 
official Petrograd reports. 

Hot, dry weather had prevailed throughout 
June. The shallow ditches, rivulets and 
swamps in the plain were slowly disappearing, 
filling the air with the awful stench of drying 
slime. Everywhere one could see those hot- 
beds of innumerable swarms of midges, flies 
and mosquitoes which were feeding on the 
rapidly-decaying corpses and carcases, and 
harrying those who dared to live . in tliis 
usually forlorn region. In the close heat of 
a July night in the low-lying marshes, our 
Allies opened their bombardment of the 
sectors singled out for attack. Striking the 

sandy soil, the shells raised up a wall of 
dust ; the sun rose that morning over the 
battlefield not in the white mist usually 
spreading above the waters, but in a ruddy 
cloud composed of dark smoke and yellow, 
burning sand. It was a live cloud, shaken 
by the violent explosions of shrapnel and 
illuminated by fiery lightnings. If ever hell 
was revealed on earth it was on the battle- 
fields of the Southern Poliesie. Parapets were 
razed, villages stood in flames, forests were 
breaking under the weight of the bombard- 
ment ; the defence was being disorganized ; 
in the shallow trenches lateral movements were 
becoming increasingly difficult, the telephone 
wires were being torn, different sectors were 
getting isolated. The living were buried in 
their trenches and on the old battlefields the 
dead were raised from their graves. In the 
forests the trees themselves seemed as if 
paralysed in the agonizing expectation of 
death. Not a sound, not a movement, but 
the fearful screeching and howling of sheik 
and shrapnel, and the sound of bullets hitting 
the mighty pine trunks. The crowns and 
branches of the trees were breaking, and a 
rich shower of their green needles was filling 
the air and covering the ground. Below the 
dying giants human beings were moving like 



shadows, inaudible in that cataclysm of 

And then, in the midst of that orgy of horrors, 
the Russian attack began, both near Kolki and 
on the Rafalcvka front. Across the plain afford- 
ing but scanty cover, and into the forests 
carefully fortified by the enemy, the Russian 
infantry was advancing with the usual heroic 
equanimity of the Slav peasant. What were 
they thinking, those quiet, kindly ploughmen 
on that day which saw so many of them 
die ? Individually, of things which matter 
only to the individual ; as a mass, they, 
with their unequalled instinct of the living 
community and crowd, were dreaming, in the 
midst of visions of horror, the great mystic, 
shining dream of their nation. 

" We stormed a fortified position " or " we 
broke through three lines of barbed-wire 
entanglements fitted with land mines " were 
the short, business-like announcements from 
Russian Headquarters. How much was there 
in those events which no reports can ever 
express ! Before the frontal impact of the 
Russiwi attack the Austrian defences broke 
down, their forces fell back wherevor a 
retreat was still possible. The only troops 

that held out in their sectors for two days, 
until outflanked, were the Bavarians near 
Kolki and the Polish Legions near Kolodye. 
Their help, it will be remembered, was grace- 
fully acknowledged in the Vienna communique 
of July 7, and honours were conferred on the 
surviving remnants of what once had been 
regiments. " The losses are serious," said a semi- 
official Polish report, " though one cannot 
speak of a general catastrophe." As a matter 
of fact, some of the Polish regiments were 
practically wiped out ; thus— e.g., the 5th lost 
almost all its officers, no less than 12 re- 
maining dead on the battlefield of Kolodye. 

In the night of July 6-7, the last enemy 
rear guards were withdrawing to the west, 
firing in their retreat villages, causeways and 
forests. A curtain of flames was to cover the 
defeated army from its pursuers. Undei the 
pale stars of the short summer night, across 
the plain covered with delicate purple poppies, 
past the treacherous marshes, they were trek- 
ing towards the distant blue range of hills, 
where the remnants of the Austrian forces had 
already found a temporary shelter and com- 
parative safety. In spite of the curtain of 
flames and the destruction of causeways, the 

Austrian prisoners at work relaying a narrow gauge railway. 





A party of Infantry advancing in the open. 

intrepid Cossacks clung to the defeated enemy, 
harassing his worn-out columns. 

Towards the end of June, in the days of the 
most violent German attacks between the 
Stokhod and the Styr on both sides of the 
Rovno-Kovel railway, oiir Allies had had to 
withdraw their line in several sectors by 
some four to six miles. That the withdrawal 
was quite insignificant was admitted even 
by the German official summary of the Russian 
offensive published on September 8, 1916 : 
it tried to explain away " the comparatively 
small progress made by the counter-offensive." 
But even that they were unable to maintain. 
Simultaneously with the advance of General 
Lesh's army the troops of General Kaledin 
resumed the initiative, and between July 4—8 
regained most of their previous positions on 
the Rozhyshche-Gruziatyn front, and enlarged 
their holdings between Gruziatyn and Kolki, 
capturing 341 officers, 9,135 unwounded soldiers, 
and rich booty. 

On July 8 the two Russian Armies under 
Generals Lesh and Kaledin had reached the 
River Stokhod practically on the entire front 
between the Kovel-Sarny and Kovel-Rovno 
railways. At two points, near Arsenovitehe 
and near Ugly (in the bend of the river between 
Kashovka and Yanovka) they even forced the 
passage. At Ugly, Colonel Kantseroff, com- 
manding the 283rd Pavlograd Regiment, a 
Knight of the Order of St. George, at the head 
of his troops, crossed the river over a burning 
bridge. When the fire had been extinguished 
three German mines were found under the 
bridge ; by some miracle they had failed to 
explode. In the course of the next day our 
Allies extended their positions on the western 

bank of the Stokhod, capturing practically the 
entire district within the Kashovka-Yanovka 
curve, and also carried the bridges near Bogus- 
hovka on the road and railway leading from 
Rovno to Kovel. The latter gains seem, how- 
ever, to have been abandoned in the fighting of 
the next few days. 

The forcing of the Stokhod line was certainly 
to prove neither an easy nor a short affair. 
The fighting on that front extending round 
Kovel at an average radius of slightly more 
than 20 miles was the first stage of the battle 
for that important strategic centre and railway 
junction. " On the issue of these battles," 
said an explanatory statement issued by the 
Russian Staff about the middle of July, " un- 
doubtedly depends not only the fate of Kovel 
and its strongly fortified zone, but > also to a 
very considerable degree all the present opera- 
tions on our front. In the event of the fall of 
Kovel and its zone, fresh important perspec- 
tives will open out to us, for the road to Brest- 
Litovsk, and to some extent also the roads to 
Warsaw, will be laid bare." No wonder, then, 
that the Germans were determined to hold the 
line of the Stokhod to the last gasp. Kovel 
was to them what Verdun had been to the 

The defence was decidedly favoured by the 
topographical conditions of the country. The 
Stokhod itself, it is true, is but a shallow stream 
fordable at many points. Yet its passage is 
impeded by the wide, marshy areas on both 
its banks. The country round, except near 
Kashovka, is completely flat, with a slight 
tendency to elevation on the western side. 
Through that low -lying plain winds the slug- 
gish Stokhod, in the midst of banks of reeds 
and beds of water-lilies. Artillery, especially 



that of the heavier kind, can approach its belt 
only in certain sectors, and the conditions in 
that respect were especially bad on the eastern 

The defensive positions of the enemy on the 
left bank had been partly prepared by the 
Austrians in the autumn of 1915. Ever 
since the Russians had broken through in 
front of Lutsk, the Germans had been busy 
converting them into first-class defences ; tens 
of thousands of prisoners of 'war and of local 
inhabitants, pressed for the purpose, were 
compelled to work under the direction of 
German engineers Consecutive lines of 
trenches were built, land mines were laid, 
mazes of barbed wire were simk among the 
thick water growth, under the surface of the 
slow-flowing river. A very considerable force 
of artillery was brought up for the defence of 
the Stokhod line ; according to the best 
Russian authorities no less than 100 heavy 
guns and 180 of a lighter calibre were gathered 
in front of Kovel. Nor was there any la"k of 
men — by now far less abundant with the 
enemy than material. Picked troops — Bava- 
rians, Magyars, Austrian Germans and Polish 
Volunteers — were facing the Great Russian 

Finnish, Siberian and Turkestan divisions of 
our Allies. The numbers of the enemy were 
even sufficient to enable him to answer with 
vigorous and costly counter-offensives the 
attacks of the Russians. 

The gathering of troops and material 
for the defence of Kovel seems to have 
begun directly after our Allies had resumed 
their offensive in Volhynia — i.e., in the 
first days of July. " Fighting continues in 
the Stokhod district," said the Petrograd 
communique of July 11. "The enemy having 
brought up reinforcements and advanced 
powerful artillery, is offering a stubborn 
resistance." A battle more fierce than any 
that had as yet been seen in the Volhynian 
offensive developed now on both sides of the 
Kovel-Sarny and the Kovel-Rovno railways, 
both armies suffering heavy casualties. 
" Though we are already across the river at 
several places," wrote The Times special 
correspondent, Mr. Washburn, under date of 
July 13, "it must not be expected that the 
Russians will be able to rush in a few days 
positions which are unquestionably stronger 
than any since the enemy departed from his 
first line before Rovno. Up to this time the 

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Russian officers outside a house in an Austrian rustic 
village. Circle picture : An altar in the village. 

enemy has certainly been out-manoeuvred, 
out-marched, and fairly out-classed in all 
particulars." Now, however, the fighting re- 
sumed the character of trench warfare, resem- 
bling the battles of Baranovitche and on the 
Somme rather than those fought in Volhynia 
and the Poliesie during the preceding five 

A few days after the line of the Stokhod had 
been reached, about the middle of July, the 
Russian offensive began to slow down, our 
Allies contenting themselves with repelling 
German attacks. At several places even some 
withdrawals were made from the exposed 
positions on the western bank of the river. It 
seems more than likely that the statement of the 
Russian Staff concerning the vital importance 
of Kovel, issued at the time of the hottest 
battles for the river-crossing?, was really- 
meant as a blind, to cover the impending 
offensive of General Sakharoff. It was well 
known to Russian Headquarters that the 
enemy was gathering considerable forces on 
the southern flank of the Lutsk salient. It 
would therefore have been, to say the least, 
risky to engage very considerable forces (and 
such would have been needed for a serious 

offensive against Kovel) in an advance even 
beyond the farthest existing salients to the 
west, whilst Bothmer's army still maintained 
its original positions in the centre, and fresh 
trooops were being concentrated on its northern 
flank, on the Stoyanoff-Brody front, for a 
counter-offensive against Lutsk and Dubno. 

It was not until the operations on the north- 
western border of Galicia were reaching their 
victorious conclusion that our Allies resumed 
their offensive in northern Volhynia and on the 
Stokhod. " To the west of Lutsk," said the 
Petrograd report of July 28, " our troops took 
the offensive and broke through the whole 
first lino of the enemy, inflicting severe losses 
upon him. Our troops are now advancing, and 



our cavalry is pursuing the fleeing enemy. 
In this district we have captured 46 guns 
(including G howitzers), 6 machine-guns, about 
50 officers (including 2 generals and 2 com- 
manders of regiments), and over 9,000 men. ' 

On the Stokhod itself the two armies of 
Generals Lesh and Kaledin opened their 
offensive on July 28, at 1 o'clock in the after- 
noon. The first day's fighting proved extremely 
successful, resulting in important strategic 
gains, and in the capture, within the first hour 
of the attack, of 38 guns, two being heavy and 
all German, and 4,000 (mostly German) 
prisoners. In the region of Gulevitche, not far 
from the spot where the Kovel-Sarny railway 
crosses the Stokhod, Russian troops, having 

Commanded the Eleventh Russian Army. 

built bridges, passed to the left bank of the 
river, where they took up strong positions. 
Similarly a crossing was again forced in the 
district of Kashovka. The most important 
move, however, was made, and the greatest 
success was scored, in the direction of the 
village of Ozeriany, along the head-waters of 
the Stokhod, where the river is less wide. The 
simultaneous pressure on the entire front round 
Kovel made it difficult for the enemy to shift 
the local reserves which he had at his disposal 
in that district. But " on account of the 
extraordinary nature of the German defences," 
wrote, under date of July 29, the special corre- 
spondent of The Times, Mr. Washburn, then 
with Headquarters on the Stokhod front, " we 
must not expect the Russians to run over them 
in a few days. The results already attained 
are extraordinary, when the strength of the 

German positions and the quantities of guns 
and ammunition are considered. Our losses 
are incredibly small, viewed in the light of 
what has been accomplished." 

Even the Germans had to acknowledge the 
signal success of their opponents, though they 
did so with hardly veiled annoyance. " North- 
west of Lutsk," said the Berlin report of 
July 29, " after several unsuccessful attacks, 
the enemy succeeded in penetrating our lines 
at Trysten, and obliged us to evacuate the 
positions we still held in front of the Stokhod." 
During the following days the successes of 
July 29 were systematically developed. By 
noon of July 30 — i.e., within 48 hours 
from the commencement of the offensive, the 
number of captured guns had risen to 49, that 
of prisoners to 9,000. A desperate battle was 
proceeding at Gulevitche. Meantime, the 
Russian troops which had crossed the Stokhod 
at Kashovka extended their gains for 5£ miles 
beyond the river, whilst on the left bank the 
movement was slowly swinging forward with 
the village of Perehody for its approximate 
axis. On July 31 further captures of ground 
and men were made in the bends of the Stokhod. 
At one point the whole 31st Honved Regiment 
was taken prisoners by our Allies, together 
with their regimental commander and his 
entire staff. As a further illustration of the 
enemy's losses may serve the fact that in the 
battles fought during the last days of July the 
41st Honved Division was cut to 4,000, and the 
4th Austrian Division to 3,000 men. No less 
heavy were the losses of the G ermans and of the 
Polish Legions. And again the Berlin report 
of July 30 growled out its unwilling, distorted 
admissions : 

" Army Group of Von Linsingen. — Enemy 
attacks in increased strength are reported. 
With the exception of some sectors, these at- 
tacks are now being made on the whole front 
from Stobychva to the west of Berestechko. 
They all collapsed with gigantic losses. . . . 
During the night the. withdrawal, which had 
been planned for a long time from the Stokhod 
curve, which projects towards the east and 
north of the Kovel-Rovno railway, to a shorter 
line was carried through without interference 
by the enemy." 

In the first days of August further fighting 
took place on the entire front — round Stoby- 
chva, Smoliary, Gulevitche, Sitovitche and 
Syeltse, down to Kisielin, culminating on 
August 3-4 in the battle for Rudka Mirynska, 

Russian engineers repairing bridges destroyed by the Austrians. Centre picture : 
Cavalry crossing a hastily built bridge. 




a village on the east bank of the Stavok (a left- 
hand tributary of the Stokhod). Having 
reached, on August 2, the front Sitovitche- 
Yanovka within the big bend of the Stokhod, 
our Allies proceeded to attack the next defen- 
sive line of the enemy. On August 3, before 
dawn, the Russian artillery opened a heavy 
bombardment of these positions. About 1 p.m. 
Turkestan regiments broke through the Austrian 
defences north of Budka Mirynska, occupied 
the hamlets of Popovka and Yastremiets, and 
reached the Miryn-Poviersk road. Then Rudka 
Mirynska itself was attacked. The battle 
developed into bayonet fighting in the streets 
of the village, which changed hands several 
times. About 4.30 p.m., the enemy opened a 
counter-attack along the entire line. Bava- 
rians, the Third Brigade of the Polish Legions 
under Count Sheptyski, and Germans from 
Lower Austria and Southern Moravia belonging 
to the army corps of General von Fath, opened 
an encircling movement against the Turkestan 
troops holding the village and district of 
Rudka Mirynska. A series of enemy attacks 
were repulsed. Finally, however, about 3 a.m., 
our Allies evacuated the salient, which the 
village was now forming, and fell back 400-600 
yards to the east. 

The battle of Rudka Mirynska closes the 
second stage of the fighting on the Stokhod. 
The result of the week's operations consisted in 
the river line having been forced on almost the 

entire front. The enemy troops holding the 
district had thus lost one of their main natural 
defensive lines, and a good start had been 
gained by our Allies for an attack against 
Kovel, should the developments in other parts 
of the line make such a movement desirable. 

On a level with the greatest feats of the 
armies of Generals Kaledin, Lechitsky and Lesh 
stands the offensive undertaken in the second 
half of July from the southern flank of the 
Lutsk salient by General Sakharoff, command- 
ing the Eleventh Russian Army, and well known 
from the time of the Russo-Japanese War as 
Chief of General Kuropatkin's Staff. The 
enemy, in view of the utter failure of his offen- 
sive against Lutsk, on the Kovel-Rozhyshche 
line, had decided in July to make another 
desperate attempt at driving in the Russian 
salient in Volhynia by means of an attack from 
the south. A highly developed net of roads 
and railways radiating from Lvoff in the direc- 
tion of the Volhynian frontier supported the 
movements of his forces ; besides the double- 
track Lvoff-Krasne-Brody line, he had at his 
disposal the Lvoff-Stoyanoff and the Lvoff- 
Sokal-Vladimir Volynsk railways. In view of 
their superiority in communications the Austro- 
German commanders hoped to be able to effect 
a sudden concentration of men and material, 
and then, by a sharp flank attack against Lutsk 
and Dubno, to undo the results of the preceding 




A Russian General conducts an attack by field 
telephone. Smaller picture : The Russian Com- 
mander consults General Turbin. 

six weeks of Russian operations in Volhynia. 
The phalanx of Linsmgen and Boehm-Ermolli 
was to include on this front 20 divisions, and 
July 18 was the date chosen for the opening 
of this Austro-German counter-offensive 

Our Allies could hardly have assembled an 
equal force in such short time. The movement 
had therefore to be forestalled and frustrated 
by an attack whilst the enemy concentration 
was still incomplete. On July 15, south-west 
of Lutsk and Dubno, the Austro-German com- 
manders had gathered as yet only some seven 
infantry and four cavalry divisions. Among 
the infantry divisions were the 7th, 48th and 
61st Austro-Hungarian and the 22nd, 43rd and 
108th German divisions — the 48th and 61st 
Austro-Hungarian divisions havingbeen brought 
up from the Trentino, the 22nd German division 
from the Dvinsk front, and the 43rd from Ver- 
dun. Their front extended from about Shklin, 
past TJgrinoff, Zlotchevka and Mikhailovka 
(sometimes called Boremel) to Novoselki on 
the western bank of the Styr ; on the right 
bank of the river it stretched across the region 
of Verben to the Pliaskevka and then in a 
southerly direction, across fairly high wooded 

hills, to Radziviloff on the Lvoff-Brody-Rovno 

Four stages can be distinguished in the 
offensive of General Sakharoff which opened 
during the night of July 15-16 and lasted for 
about a month. The object of the first attack 
(July 15-17) was to frustrate the offensive plan 
of the enemy by deranging and destroying his 
preparations. The aim was brilliantly achieved, 
and the Austro-German forces had to fall back 




on the line of the Lipa (a left-hand tributary of 
the Styr). Then, between July 20-22, followed 
the second battle which resulted in the forcing 
of the Lipa and the capture of Berestechko. 
The Lutsk salient, of which the enemy had 
planned to drive in the left flank by means of a 
thrust from the south, was rapidly extending up 
the western bank of the Styr. The battle for 
Brody which opened on July 25 and closed with 
the fall of that town on July 28 formed the 
third stage of the offensive. The fourth and last 
step in General Sakharoff 's advance came as the 
result of an attack against the Brody-Zalostse- 
Vorobiyovka front. The victories gained on that 
iine brought his forces into the direct neighbour- 
hood of the Lvoff-Krasne-Tarnopol railway, and 
this, in conjunction with General Lechitsky's 
offensive against Stanislavoff, caused the with- 
drawal of Count Bothmer's Army from its 
unconquerable positions on the Sereth -Strypa 

On July 15 a minor engagement was fought 
on the Sviniukhy and the Ostroff-Gubin front 
with results favourable to our Allies. On 
the same day, at 4 p.m., began the Russian 
bombardment on the entire Bludoff-Shklin- 
Zlotchevka front. The night which followed was 
wet and rainy, and as the fire was distributed 
in equal voliune all along the line, the enemy does 

not seem at first to have taken any alarm as to 
what was coming. Soon afterwards the Russian 
artillery commenced, in its usual style, cutting 
breaches in the barbed wire entanglements. 
Thus, for instance, in front of a Siberian 
army corps which had achieved world fame 
in the battle on the Bzura in January, 1915, 
and was now to play a leading part in the 
attack, the Russian guns had cut by midnight 
10 avenues, each approximately 20 paces 
broad. The attack was timed for 3 a.m. 
The chief blow was struck from Shklin and 
Ugrinoff in a due southerly direction. Wading 
under the machine-gun and rifle fire in water 
and marsh above their waists, often to their 
armpits, the Russians crossed the river and 
forced the Austrian and German positions on 
its southern bank. At the same time, in the 
angle between the Styr and the Lower Lipa, an 
attack was delivered in a westerly direction. 
In an interview with the Petrograd Corre- 
spondent of The Times, on July 22, General 
Alexeieff, Chief of the Russian Staff, made the 
following comment on the first stage of General 
Sakharoff'.s offensive : " General Sakharoff 
accomplished a brilliant feat of arms on 
July 16 at the expense of the 48th and 61st 
Austrian Divisions. Pivoting his army on 
Bludoff he manoeuvred on the enemy's flank, 



shepherding the Austrians and driving them in 
full rout during the night a distance of nearly 
seven miles ; he badly mauled the 22nd German 
Division, transferred from the Dvinsk front, 
and also the above-mentioned 43rd Division, 
which tried to save the hard-pressed soldiers of 
the Archduke Joseph-Ferdinand. The latest 
accounts show that General Sakharoff is 
developing his success with extraordinary 
rapidity and is crossing the two rivers in pursuit 
of the foe." 

No less important than from the strategic 
point of view was the victory on the Mikhailovka 
front when measured in terms of captures of 
men and material. As the enemy had been 
preparing in that region for a big offensive, his 
accumulation of stores proved enormous. 
Every peasant's hut was stacked with shells 
and small-arm ammunition, while huge supplies 
were accumulated in all the important villages. 
Of the three biggest ammunition stores captured 
by the Russians on July 16, one alone contained 
35,570 projectiles of different calibres, 5,230 
grenades, and an enormous quantity of car- 
tridges, as well as three searchlights, a band, a 
military tailoring depot, field kitchens, and a 
large quantity of barbed wire, telephone wire, 

and other war material. On the same day 317 
officers (including two commanders of regiments 
with one entire regimental staff) and 12,037 
men were taken prisoners, and 30 guns (of 
which 17 were of heavy calibre — 4-inch and 
9-inch), 49 machine guns and 36 bomb and 
mine-throwers were captured. Some of the ' 
heavy guns were in perfect condition and could 
almost immediately be turned against their late 
owners. The counter-attacks meantime under- 
taken by the Germans on the western flank, in 
the Zviniany-Elizaroff region, proved of no avail. 
And again Vienna made its acknowledgment 
of defeat — with its inevitable compliments to 
the saving Germans and its customary lies con- 
cerning Russian numbers and the character of 
their own retreat. "To the south-west of 
Lutsk," says the Austrian official communique 
of July 17, " the Russians attacked with 
superior forces. The front sector near Shklin 
withdrew into the district to the east of Coro- 
khoff. Covered on the western flank by a 
counter-attack delivered by German bat- 
talions, the allied troops fighting to the south 
of Lutsk were thereupon withdrawn behind 
the Lipa without being disturbed by the 

Dawn on the battlefield : Russian and Austrian wounded. 



The heavy rains about the middle of July 
tlireatened to put serious obstacles in the way 
of a further Russian advance ; the rivers were 
rising and the marshes were becoming almost 
impassable. Still General Sakharoff pressed 
forward his advance, and that across most 
difficult ground, at points where it was least 
expected. It was on historic fields that the 
second battle of his offensive was fought 
on July 20-22 Previous to the eighteenth 
century the Crimean Tartars, emerging from 
the Wild Fields of Southern Russia, used to 
invade periodically the Ukraina, Podolia and 
even Volhynia. Crossing the Dnieper at the 
so-called Tartars' Ford, they followed certain 
regular paths. One of their main roads — 
named the Black Route — led past Loshnioff 
(about half-way between Berestechko and 
Brody). In 1651 they were advancing along 
that road as allies of the Cossacks, who since 
1648 had risen in arms against the attempts of 
the Polish magnates and gentry to convert into 
serfs them, the free peasants of the Ukrain?, 
On the fields of Berestechko their armies were 
defeated by the Poles under King John Casimir. 

This time it was a vanquishing army which 
was advancing on Berestechko. The Russian 
attack was carried out on concentric lines, the 
pincers closing in from the north and from the 
east, across the Lipa south of Mikhailovka and 

across the Styr, south-west of Verben. On the 
Lipa, having once overcome the difficulties of 
crossing the marshy valley under concentrated 
fire, the Russian troops broke fairly easily 
through the Austrian front. On the Styr, 
having dislodged the enemy from the village 
of Verben and from the organized works south 
of it, General Sakharoff's troops routed the 
Austrians, intercepting big numbers of the 
demoralized enemy. Thus — e.g.t between Ver- 
ben and Pliashevo, on the right bank of the 
Styr, south of its confluence with the Lipa — the 
entire 13th Austrian Landwehr Regiment was 
surrounded and captured. With their moral 
fallen to such a low level, the Austrians could 
no longer offer any serious resistance. 

The Styr was crossed by the Russians on the 
same day, and after a short fight on the sur- 
rounding heights our Allies entered the town 
of Berestechko.* In this battle fell Colonel 
Tataroff, the conqueror of Kozin f ; wounded 
in the heart by a shrapnel bullet, he exclaimed, 
" I am killed," and then by a supreme effort 
got up, and with his last breath gave the word 
of command : " Regiment — Charge ! " 

By the end of the next day (July 21) the 
defeat of General von Boehm-Ermolli's left 

* The town of Berestechko was known in the 16th 
century as an important centre of the Polish Unitarians, 
the so-called Socinians. 

t Ci. Chapter CXXXVII., p. 26. 





The Russian officer, who on the Styr, was wounded 
in the heart by a shrapnel bullet. Before dying he 
gave his last word of command : Regiment — Charge I 

wing was complete. The Russians, having 
captured in these two days more than 300 
officers and 12,000 men, were on both sides of 
the Styr closing in against the Galician frontier. 
General Sakharoffs offensive was changed in 
character and direction. All danger of an 
enemy attempt against the Lutsk salient from 
the south was now gone, its line was improved 
and its left flank covered. General Sakharoffs 
operations which had begun as a movement in 
defence of the convex Russian line in Volhynia, 
passed, after the first task had been accom- 
plished, into a flank attack against the Austro- 
German centre on the Strypa-Sereth line. 
The offensive now developed south-east of the 
Styr, on Galician ground, and was directed 
against the Brody-Zalostse-Vorobiyovka front. 
By July 22 the fate of Brody was sealed. 
The military hospitals were cleared. The 
Austrian authorities began to evacuate the 
town. The post office left on July 25. On 
the same day " evacuation trains " were 
placed at the disposal of the civilian popu- 
lation. Stores were removed. In short, pro- 
fiting from their vast experience in retreats, 
the Austrians were carrying out this one in a 
most systematic manner. Indeed, the evacua- 
tion was so thorough that during the next 

days whatever population had remained behind 
was in danger of starvation, as no sufficient 
stores had been left for them. The following 
is the description given by an eye-witness of 
the last days in Brody : " The town is empty. 
Of its 20,000 inhabitants hardly 6,000 are left. 
Few civilians are seen in the streets, and all 
traffic ceases early at night. The shops are 
closed, the public gardens, crowded a short 
time ago, are now deserted and forsaken. The 
battle-front is but a few miles out of Brody, 
and so the roar of the guns is deafening. The 
nights are frightful, no one can shut an eye. 
There is some kind of new Russian guns of a big 
calibre ; when these start booming, mirrors and 
pictures fall off the walls, the window-panes 
clatter like mad, and the houses shake as in an 
earthquake. One can also clearly hear in the 
town the continuous rattle of machine-guns ; 
the voices of war and the breath of death 
reach the town and pass even beyond it. . . . 

" Austrian captive balloons continually soar 
above the town. Frequently we hear the 
rattling of Russian aeroplanes, which recon- 
noitre the entire district ; some of the aviators 
are French or British. . . ." 

Tho last two " evacuation trains " left Brody 
late at night on Thursday, July 27. Of these 
one passed through Lvoff on Friday at 1 p.m., 
the other remained throughout the day in a 
little station on the road, waiting for orders 
where to take the unfortunate " evacuated." 
Although the Austrian Government is very 
particular to carry away all population which 
might be of any use to the Russians, or show 

Heights in Metres. 





sympathies lor the " enemy cause," it is 
much less careful about their future. The 
barracks for Galician " refugees " at Chocnia 
will for all time remain one of the most out- 
standing examples of the criminal indolence 
and thoughtlessness of the Austrian bureau- 
cracy. " They are built in a marshy region," 
writes the Cracow daily Glos Narodu of 
August 0, 191(5, "where there is no good 
drinking water available. The barracks were 
hastily constructed and do not answer the 
requirements of hygiene. In fact, it is diffi- 
cult to speak of hygiene when 500 or more 
people have to live in a dark hut, which 
can hardly be properly heated m winter, 
and where vermin of all kinds has taken up 
for good its abode." The Austrian censor- 
ship has never allowed the statistics of mor- 
tality at Chocnia to be published, but it 
can be learned from a statement made in 
June, 1916, by Count Lasocki to the Austrian 
Minister of the Interior, and printed, though 
with deletions by the censor, in the Glos Narodu 
of July 3, that 1,300 cases of death had oc- 
curred in the camp harbouring an average of 
5,000 refugees. In July, 1910, typhus was no 
longer prevalent, but typhoid and scarlet 

fever and small-pox were still claiming scores 
of victims. Into that camp hundreds of fresh 
" evacuated " were moved in the course of the 

The following was the disposition of the 
enemy defences round Brocly on the night of 
July 24 — i.e., on the eve of the Russian offen- 
sive against the town : His left flank rested 
on the Styr, near its junction with the Slonovka 
(about two miles north-east of Loshnioff). 
Here it was perfectly safe against any possible 
attempts at outflanking from the west. The 
corner between the Styr and the Slonovka 
is an impassable marsh several miles wide. 
South of it, on the Upper Styr, between 
Loshnioff and the Brody-Lvoff railway, 
stretches a forest, about 15 miles long and 
about 12 miles wide. This forest could not 
have been crossed without long and elaborate 
preparations, and even then, in view of the 
complete absence of good roads, this could 
have only been done at a very slow rate. East 
of the Styr the enemy positions followed up 
to about Batkoff the line of the river Slonovka 
(in its upper course, above its junction with 
the Sitenka, called Sestratyn). The wooded 

Bursting of a shell: Russian infantrymen taking cover in the long grass. 




heights round the village of Butchina,* at the 
headwaters of the Ikva, formed on the right 
flank the corner bastion of the enemy positions, 
which thus stretched from north-west to south- 
east for about 10 miles on each side of 

The positions in front of Brody themselves 
were very strong by nature. Everywhere the 
broad belt of dangerous marshes on both sides 
of the Slonovka-Sestratyn river formed the 
first line of defence. South of Loshnioff, the 
entire space between the Slonovka and the 
parallel stream of the Boldurka is filled by the 
forest called Gaydzisko ; on its south-western 
flank extend the marshes of the Boldurka, 
more than a mile wide. And again, between 
Height 238 (north-west of the Brody-Radzi- 
viloff high road) and the village of Gaye 
Dytkovietskie f extends another forest as 
long as, though narrower than, the Forest 
Gaydzisko. Thus there are only two gaps in 
this belt of forests, one north-west, the other 
south-west of Brody. In the north-western 
gap, about three and a half miles wide, lie the 

* The Makutra, Mogila, etc. Their average height is 
about 1,200 feet, and they rise about 400 feet above the 
ground north-east of them and about 700 feet above the 
level of the Sestratyn valley. 

t The name itself of this settlement^GayeDytkoviet- 
ekie— means " the Woods of Dytkovtse." 

three villages of Shniroff, Klekotoff and 
Opariptse, which were to be the scene of the 
severest fighting in the battle for Brody. 
Between Shniroff and Klekotoff lies a wood 
called Volanik. The southern gap, at the foot 
of the Makutra Height, is hardly a mile wide, 
and may best be denoted by the name of the 
adjoining hamlet of Vieselova. 

July 25, 1.30 a.m. Petrograd time — i.e., 
3 a.m. Central European summer time — marked 
the beginning of the battle for Brody. The 
Russian attack proceeded in three directions : 
against Loshnioff, against the Klekotoff- 
Opariptse front, and against the Vieselova 
line. The most serious of the three was the 
attempt in the centre, striking directly at 
Brody ; the other two movements aimed 
merely at outflanking the key of the enemy's 
positions, the fortified heights of Klekotoff 
AYhilst in the centre several hours of bombard 
ment preceded the infantry attacks, in the 
sector of Loshnioff the Russian batteries did 
not open fire until the infantry had reached 
the southern bank of the Slonovka. Unseen 
by the Austrians, soon after dark, the Russians 
had laid a causeway across the swamps among 
the reeds of the valley, and the first line of 
Austrian trenches south of Loshnioff, on the 
left bank of the Slonovka, was carried by 



surprise. By the morning our Allies had 
captured the fortified village of Lasovo, * in 
the north-eastern corner of the forest Gay- 
dzisko. But inside the forest the Austrians 
held strong fortified lines, which enabled their 
beaten forces to withdraw beyond the river 
Boldurka, though not without heavy losses in 
guns and prisoners. Only the south-eastern 
part of the forest, on the line of the Heights 
246 and 219, remained in the hands of the 

On the other flank, near Batkoff, where the 
valley of the Sestratyn is very narrow, the first 
step — the crossing — did not present any serious 
difficulties, but the further advance was exceed- 
ingly slow work ; the country round was 
dominated by the heavy Austrian batteries on 
the Makutra. 

In the centre the Russian infantry opened 
in the early morning an attack against the 
Opariptse front. The town of Radziviloff and 
the surrounding forests on the Russian side 
offered the attacking troops favourable con- 
* " Lasovo " means the " village in the forest." 

ditions for approaching the river. Here, 
however, they had to face most serious diffi 
culties. On the northern side, in front of 
Shniroff and Klekotoff, the marshes are too 
wide to be crossed ; and in the more favourable 
sector in the south almost the entire front is 
taken up by the village of Opariptse, which 
had been strongly fortified by the enemy. 
(Opariptse, and the village of Berlin on the 
Boldurka north of Brody, were originally 
German settlements, and are not clustered 
villages of the Slav type, but are laid out as a 
single long street of substantial, well-built 
homesteads. Opariptse is about a mile and a 
half long.) 

One Russian attack against Opariptse fol- 
lowed the other ; many of them broke down 
under the intense fire of the enemy's artillery 
and machine-guns. Whenever our Allies suc- 
ceeded in gaining a foothold on the Austrian 
side, the enemy, with a total disregard of 
losses, delivered desperate counter-attacks. 
Many of the best troops of General von Boehm- 
Ermolli's army were engaged — Magyar, Vicn- 

Austrian trenches and dug-outs captured by the Russians during the great advance. 



Cossack troops quartered in the late Austrian 
Custom House, ltskani, Bukovina. The Cossack 
on the left was thrice decorated for bravery. 
Smaller picture : Russian soldiers receiving the 
Cross of St. George on the battlefield. 

nese, Bosnian and Galician regiments fought 
in the battle for Brody. Opariptse was not 
taken until the sixth Russian attack. Yet 
even this success was no more than a first 
step : our Allies had merely obtained a safe 
crossing of the Sestratyn. Even now they 
stood only at the foot of the hills which extend 
from Klekotoff to Height 238, and which 
formed the main Austrian line of defence. 

But at this stage help came from the division 
which had crossed the Slonovka, at Loshnioff, 
and had been working its way through the 
Forest Gaydzisko. Advancing step by step, 
they emerged from the forest and captured 
the village of Shniroff. On the morning of 
July 27 the Austrian line of defence followed 
the Boldurka as far as the village of Bielavtse ; 
from here it extended through the forest of 
Volanik to Klekotoff ; from Klekotoff, along 
the range of hills facing Opariptse to Height 
238, and the forest on both, sides of the Brody- 
RadzivilofT road and railway. The Russian 
infantry continued on July 27 its attacks 
against the positions above Opariptse, the 
enemy counter-attacking immediately when- 
ever any gain was effected. At 5 p.m. our 
Allien had captiv»d the main positions south 

of Klekotoff. Still the Austrians did not give 
up the game for lost. One of the best Magyar 
regiments was ordered to counter-attack. 
But whilst this movement was developing, all 
of a sudden Russian troops appeared on the 
left flank and in the rear of the attacking 
Magyars. Our Allies had forced their way 
through the Forest Volanik. The Klekotoff 



Hire engines from the Railway Station, Czernovitz, being conveyed across the Rumanian frontier. 

positions were lost to the enemy. About the 
same time the Russian forces began to emerge 
from the forest near the village of Gaye 
Dytkovietslrie. These two movements decided 
the battle for Brody. Throughout the night 
rearguard actions were still continued by the 
enemy on the heights and in the forests and 
villages north of the town. On July 28, at 
0.30 a.m., our Allies entered Brody for the third 
time during the War, after almost a year of 
Austrian occupation.* "The plan for General 
Sakharoff's offensive against Brody," wrote 
the special correspondent of The Times, Mr. 
Washburn, under date of July 28, " was laid 
out on a schedule. I have watched every 
phase of it, and it has moved without a single 
hitch, and Brody has been taken within 24 
hours of the exact time planned by the General 
when he began the movement two weeks ago. 
I think that this represents one of the most 
remarkable achievements of the war, for even 

* Russian cavalry entered Brody for the first time oh 
August 14, 1914, but had to withdraw on August 18. 
Two days later our Allies re-entered the town, and 
remained there until September 2, 1915. From Sep- 
tember, 1915, till June, 1916, the headquarters of the 
Second Austro-Hungarian Army under General, von 
Boehm-Ermolli were at Brody. 

the clever Germans have never been able to 
keep their movements up to schedule time." 

During the three days of fighting for Brody 
(July 25-28), General Sakharoff's troops took 
prisoners 210 officers and 13,569 soldiers, 
besides capturing a great amount of arms and 
ammunition. The total of their captures since 
July 16 amounted now to 940 officers, 39,152 
men, 49 guns (17 of heavy calibre), and an 
enormous amount of other booty. 

With the fall of Brody opens the last stage 
of General Sakharoff's offensive. On a front 
of about 50 miles his army was facing the 
Krasne-Zlochoff-Tarnopol line, the best-built 
railway in Eastern Galicia, and the most im- 
portant line of communication in the rear of 
Count Bothmer's Army. A distance varying 
from about 10 miles in the region of Zalostse to 
about 20 miles round Brody intervened between 
that railway and the Russian troops. To 
break through along the Brody-Krasne railway 
would have proved a practically impossible 
task. Hardly any roads lead across the wide 
marshes and through the forests which extend 
round the head-waters of the Bug and Styr. 
Moving along the railway from Brody to 



Krasne, one passes in the first 12 miles hamlets, 
■woods, and fields bearing these names : " Near 
the ponds," "on the islands," "in the mud," 
"in the hollows," " behind the swamp," 
" behind the mud," " the great island," " the old 
pond," " next to the swamp." No wonder, then, 
that the road avoids that district, and runs 
further east past Sukhodoly (" dry valley ") and 
Podhortse ( "next to the mountain"). This, the 
only first-class high-road running from the 
frontier of Volhynia and Galieia to the Krasne- 
Tarnopol railway — namely, from Brody to 
Zlochoff — keeps to the north-western side of 
the ridge which forms the watershed between 
the Bug, the Styr, and the Sereth — i.e., between 
the basins of the Vistula, the Dnieper, and the 
Dniester. The road from Brody, which encir- 
cles that ridge from the east, has its terminus 
at Pieniaki. These two roads were the only 
lines of communication at the disposal of 
General Sakharoff's forces in their advance 
against the left flank of Count Bothmer's 

Still, even these roads could be used only 
to a very limited extent. In the triangle 
Brody - Krasne - Tarnopol all the numerous 
marshy rivers flow north-west and south- 
east — i.e., parallel to the Brody-Tarnopol 
side of the triangle, and all the ridges (except 
the irregular heights of the watershed) follow 
the same direction. An attack, cutting this 
series of strong defensive lines at right angles, 
was perfectly unthinkable. Hence General 
Sakharoff had to adopt a different plan. 
From Brody he moved his army across 
the heights round the watershed on to 
the Podkamien-Pieniaki line (and also for 
about two or three miles south-west of 
Pieniaki), whilst in the direction of the Krasne- 
Tarnopol railway he advanced only as much as 
was necessary to cover the flank of the forces 
on the Pieniaki-Podkamien front. The forces 
on that front stood with their flank to the 
Krasne-Tarnopol railway, but as this railway 
cuts the upper valleys of the Strypa and Sereth 
and their confluents, a movement down these 
valleys was bound, if successful, to strike 
at the railway in the rear of Count Bothmer's 
positions, which faced Tarnopol on the Voro- 
biyovka-GIadki line. 

General Sakharoff's strategy seems to have 
taken the Austro-German commanders by 
surprise. They had withstood for many 
months attacks from the north-east, on the 
Zalostse-Novo Alexiniets line. They did not 

expect an offensive moving parallel to their 
basic lines. Especially unlikely did such a 
movement appear in view of the obstacles which 
it had to encounter on the Nushche-Zagozhe 
front. A transversal depression cutting the 
lines of the ridges and streams marks there the 
border line between the wooded district of 
Brody and the more open coimtry round 
Tarnopol. The hollows in that depression form 
a string of small lakes ; these are as the base 
of a trident, of which the three arms are the 
Sereth on the left, the Graberka in the centre, 
and the Seretets on the right. Three streams 
unite in the lake of Ratyshche, and from here 
flow as the River Sereth in a south-easterly 
direction, through the lakes of Zalostse, past 
Gladki towards Tarnopol. 

On August 4 General Sakharoff opened liis 
offensive against the Nushche-Zagozhe front. 
Following the Graberka from Pieniaki the 
Russians advanced against the village Zvizhyn. 
The Atistrians offered absolutely desperate 
resistance on ground on which, had it been 
properly fortified and held, probably any attacks 
might have been resisted. Our Allies, however, 
did not leave them the time to repair their 
mistakes. Their advance was most impetuous ; 
by the night of August 5 they had carried in 
bayonet charges the villages of Zvizhyn, 
Mezhdygory, Ratyshche, Gnidava and Chysto- 
pady, whilst another Russian force broke 
through from the eastern flank across the 
Zalostse line. The victory was decisive. 
Although the Germans were now throwing 
in reinforcements in great numbers, they 
could merely delay, but never more reverse, 
the movement. On August 6 our Allies 
occupied the villages of Renioff and Trost- 
sianiets Vielki. The number of prisoners 
captured by the Russians in the. three days of 
fighting, August 4-6, by itself gives an idea of 
the size and success of those operations : they 
captured 166 officers and 8,415 men. 

Their advance continued past Neterpintse, 
Nosovtse and Vertelka. On August 10 they 
reached the outskirts of the village of Neste- 
rovtse, only about four miles north-west of the 
Gladki- Vorobiyovka line. The northern end 
of Count Bothmer's positions on the Sereth- 
Strypa front was outflanked and even turned. 
The eleventh hour had struck for the retreat 
of his army — especially as south of the Dniester 
General Lechitsky was threatening to cut off 
his line of communication along the Trans- 
versal Railway. 




By June 23 the Ninth Russian Army under 
General Lechitsky had practically completed 
the conquest of the Bukovina. In the west it 
had already crossed the Galician frontier, on 
the border of Transylvania it had advanced 
within short distance of the main passes. It 
was not, however, the occupation of the 
Bukovina itself, but its further consequences, 
which were of the greatest account from the 
strategic point of view. The Bukovinian 
border is the most open and most vulnerable 
frontier of Rumania Most of the Bukovina 
forms not merely linguistically, but also geo- 
graphically, an integral part of Rumania. In 
the Bukovinian mountains lie the sources of 
the three most important rivers of Moldavia, 
the Sereth, the Moldava, and the Bystrytsa. 
Their valleys are so many gates opening to the 
south ; important roads and railways lead along 
these rivers into Rumania. Of all the belli- 
gerent States, Rumania, if she intervened, 
would have in proportion to her size and 
population by far the longest frontier. Hence 
it was of considerable importance to her that 
the gates into Moldavia should be secured 
before she entered the war. Moreover, the 
Russian advance into the Carpathian passes 
on the north-eastern frontier of Hungary 

was certain to assist her considerably in her 
main task in the War — the liberation of 

Exactly those factors which made the 
strategic importance of the Bukovina for 
Rumania deprived it of strategic value with 
regard to the Galician theatre of war. The face 
of the Bukovina is turned to the south-west. 
Its net of roads and railways in no way inter- 
venes between those of Galicia and Hungary ; 
it can be cut off without any appreciable 
loss to the systems of communications of the 
two neighbouring countries. In the spring of 
1915 the Russians had occupied most of Galicia 
and had been crossing the Carpathians without 
holding the Bukovina or even Kolomea.* 
Could the Austro-Hungarian armies have 
stopped the Russian advance on the line 
Chortoviets - Gvozdziets - Zablotoff - Pistyn, the 
mere loss of the Bukovina would have had no 
serious direct influence on the position on the 
Galician front. All the points and lines of 

* For the Russians, however, the loss of the Novosie- 
litsa-Czemovitz-KoIomea line in January-February, 
1915, meant more than, under normal circumstances, it 
would have implied to the Austrians. It cut their direct 
connexion with Bessarabia and Southern Russia. That 
is why they tried hard to re'cover it in May and June of 
the sains year. 



considerable strategic value in south-eastern 
Galicia lie to the west of Kolomea. They may 
be grouped under four headings : 

1 The Dniester Crossings. — The river can 
be crossed most easily between Halitch and 
Nizhnioff. Its banks are free from marshes such 
as surround its upper course above Halitch, 
and do not form as yet a deep, winding canon 
as below Nizhnioff. Two railways and three 
roads cross the Dniester within the 20 miles 
between these two towns. The side which holds 
these crossings can establish a much more 
effective cooperation between its armies on the 
two banks of the Dniester than is possible for 
its opponents. 

2. The Transversal Railway. — There are two 
big trunk railways crossing Galicia east and 
west : the Cracow-Przemysl-Lvoff-Tarnopol- 
Volotchysk line in the north, and the Khabovka- 
Yaslo-Sanok-Sambor - Stanislavoff - Butchatch - 
Husiatyn line at the foot of the Carpathians. 
This latter, called the Transversal Railway, 
formed for the Austro-German forces in Eastern 
Galicia one of their main lines of communication 
with the west. In the summer of 1916 the part 
of it most directly exposed to a flank attack by 
General Lechitsky's forces was the Stanislavoff- 
Tysmienitsa-Nizhnieff sector. 

3. The Stanislavoff '-Delatyn-Marmaros Sziget 
Railway is the only line which connected the 
East Galician theatre of war with Transylvania. 
The next railway across the Carpathians, the 
Lvoff-Stryj-Munkacs line, runs GO miles farther 
west. It is obvious how great was the import- 
ance of the Stanislavoff-Marmaros Sziget line 
for the Austro-German armies in East Galicia 
with a view to supplies, and also for the 
general coordination of military operations in 
Galicia and Transylvania. 

4. The Yablonitsa and the Pantyr Passes, 
opening into Transylvania. 

At almost equal distances (about 30 miles) 
from the Yablonitsa Pass, from Stanislavoff and 
from Nizhnioff lies the town of Kolomea. The 
"strategic zone" of south-eastern Galicia 
extends west of Kolomea, the nearest point of 
it being Delatyn, a station on the Stanislavoff- 
Marmaros Sziget railway. Both these towns — 
Kolomea and Delatyn — lie in the Pruth valley, 
and the distance between them is about 20 
miles. Kolomea, the junction of six railways 
(two of them are local lines leading to the oil 
district of Pechenizhyn) and of six high roads, 
is the natural base for operations against the 
" zone " to the west of it. After General 
Lechitsky's Army had captured Czernovitz 

German prisoners collecting their wounded and placing them in a Russian ambulance cart. 



and secured its left flank in the Carpathians 
against a counter-offensive from Transylvania, 
Kolomea became its immediate objective. 

A fortnight had passed since the defeat on 
the Berdo Horodyshche and the capture of 
Sniatyn (June 13). The attention of the 
Russian forces having been taken \ip by the 
forcing of the Pruth near Czernowitz and by the 
conquest of the Bukovina, the enemy troops 
which had withdrawn to the west had had time 
to take \ip new positions. Their lines east of 
Kolomea now stretched from near Niezviska 
on the Dniester, up the River Chortoviets to the 
district of Gvozdziets, then down the Cherniava 
to Zablotoff on the Pruth, and from there 
towards Pistyn in the Carpathians. On June 28 
fieneral Lechitsky's army opened a general 
offensive practically against the entire front, 
whilst a regiment of Cossacks, having swum 


Scouts in South-Eastern Galicia. Smaller picture : 
A typical cavalryman. 

across the Dniester near Snovidoff, emerged in 
the rear of the Austrian positions on the 
Chortoviets. The attack of June 28 was a 
most striking case of a carefully coordinated 
plan, carried out with extraordinary vigour. 
Before the impact of the blow the Austrian lines 
simply collapsed ; they broke in and crumbled 
like an empty shell. By 7 p.m. the captures 
made by our Allies amounted to 221 officers and 
10,285 men ; near Gvozdziets a Trans-Amur regi- 
ment succeeded in taking a battery of four 
6-inch guns, with their officers, gunners, horses 
and ammunition. On the next day the Russians 
entered Kolomea ; the panic -stricken Austrians 
fled, unable to offer any further serious resist- 
ance. They did not even find time to blow up 
the railway station and its sidings. By July 2 
the Russians were able to reopen it for traffic. 
The town of Kolomea suffered hardly any 
damage, as no serious fighting occurred within 
its area. Only on its eastern outskirts some 
five or six houses suffe ed from fire. But of the 
normal population of Kolomea, which in peace 
time exceeded 40,000, hardly 10,000 had been 
left after the Austrian evacuation. 

The further Russian advance to the west 
proceeded both north and south of Kolomea. 
An advance due west by the direct road leading 
through the Pruth valley to Delatyn was 
impracticable. Several strong defensive lines 
across it had been prepared by the enemy, 
and it would not have been possible to force 
them as long as the hills and mountains south 
of the road remained in his hands, as from 
those heights his artillery was able to direct 
a flanking fire against troops advancing from 
Kolomea against the west. The attempt to 
reach the Stanislavoff-Marmaros Sziget rail- 



way had, therefore, to be made in a 
south-westerly direction, across the wooded, 

Meantime, the right wing of General Lechit- 
sky's army and the adjoining troops of General 
Shcherbacheff were pressing forward along 
both banks of the Dniester. Having broken 
through the Niezviska lines, they entered the 
town of Obertyn on June 29. On the next day 
one of the most extraordinary battles of the 
war developed next to the Xiezviska-Tlumatch 
road, east of Yeziezhany. The Austrians were 
holding there a strong line of trenches covered 
by the usual barrier of barbed wire entangle- 
ments. Without waiting for any artillery pre- 
paration, a brigade of Circassian cavalrv 
opened a charge against the enemy lines. " The 
sight was grand, though terrifying," is the 
account given by a non-combatant eye-witness. 
" With truly Circassian daring, the cavalrymen 
attacked the trenches, carrying sabre and lance 
in their hands, and the short kindzlml (Cir- 
cassian dagger) in their teeth. As soon as the 
riders appeared in the valley the machine-guns 
started their horrible work. Confusion occurred 
in the front rank. The wild cries of men and the 
neighing of wounded horses mixed with the 
rattling of machine-guns and the cracking of 
rifles. Even more awful was the sight of the 
riders who perished in the wire entanglements. 
Still, with a wild contempt of death, the Cir- 
cassians started cutting the wire. Many perished, 
but the road was open for the surviving 
squadrons. A fresh charge followed, and a real 
massacre started in the trenches. The Cir- 
cassians worked with sabres and kindzhals . . ." 
Whoever from among the Austrians was able to 
escape, fled in terror. On June 30, at noon, the 
Circassian troops entered Yeziezhany. In 
conformance with the Austrian retreat south 
of the Dniester, the army of Count Bothmer, on 
the left bank of the river, had also to withdraw 
several miles to the west, on to the Koropiets 
line, thus bending back still farther its right 
wing. In this retreat, in the first days of July, 
they suffered severe losses at the hands of the 
pursuing Russian troops, especially in the 
district round Monastezhysha. 

Had the Russians been able to push forward 
another 10 miles to the west, and had they 
succeeded in capturing the Dniester crossings, 
Bothmer's position in the centre would have 
become untenable. Their advance had, there- 
fore, to be stopped by the Austro-German 
wmies on the Tlumatch line, or a general 

retreat in East Galicia would have become 
for them unavoidable. After General von 
Pflanzer-Baltin's army had been broken up in 
the Bukovina, its main body withdrew into the 
Carpathians. That part, however, which had 
effected its retreat on to Stanislavoff was linked 
up with the " German Army of the South.'' 
Count Bothmer's line was thus extended to the 
south, and he was put in charge of the defences 
of the Dniester crossings. Towards the end of 
June he received considerable reinforcements, 
consisting mainly of fresh Prussian divisions. 
On July 2 he opened his counter-offensive along 
the southern bank of the Dniester. After a 
violent bayonet fight in the village of Yeziez- 
hany, our Allies had to withdraw before the 
superior forces of the enemy. Still, in spite of 
the most desperate attacks, the Germans did 
not succeed in reaching the Niezviska Obertyn 
line, and had finally to settle down on 
the Yeziezhany-Khotsiiniezh-Zhukoff front. 
"During these battles," wrote the Roman 
Catholic curate of Yeziezhany, about the middle 
of July, 1916, " 12 civilian inhabitants of my 
village were killed and 20 wounded. In the 
neighbouring village of Issakoff more than 100 
people are said to have perished. On July 6 
the Germans ordered the complete evacuation 
of my parish on account of the artillery duel 
which was proceeding, and which destroyed part 


TST J"^ tiv 


: i 




r ,; 






of our village. About 1,500 people had to leave 
their homesteads. 

" On the way to Tlumatch, where we were 
ordered to go, I saw many dead men and 
horses lying unburied in the fields, poisoning 
the air. Between Yeziezhany and Zhyvachoft 
— i.e., between the opposing lines of trenches — 
they are lying to the present day. 

" I found Tlumatch deserted by most of 
the town inhabitants, but rilled with peasants 
who had been evacuated from the neighbouring 
villages. These people do not want to go 
any farther, but wish to weather here the 
storm and return to their farms." 

For the time being Count Bothmer had saved 
his right flank from complete outflanking. 
''The German troops which delivered repeated 


A novel form of Russian stretcher. Smaller picture: 

War-worn Austrian prisoners. 

heroic counter-attacks south of the Dniester," 
wrote the military correspondent of the 
Frankfurter Zeilung under date of July 9, 
" are preventing further envelopment." But 
the Austrians west of Kolomea have again 
" proved unable to make a stand." And 
then he winds up his remarks in this pathetic, 
desperate plea : " But in the interests of the 
whole front it is necessary that the Austrians 
should stand fast in that district. For even 
the most heroic valour of our troops cannot 
realize its aim if the adjoining positions are 
not maintained." 

Yet, however keen the Austrians must 
have been to satisfy their irate allies, they 
were unable to withstand the Russian offensive. 
On June 30 the Russians entered Pistyn, 
about 12 miles due south of Kolomea, and, 
on the same day, pushed forward against 
Berezoff, some six miles farther in a west- 
north-western direction. Continuing their 
advance through the mountains they reached 
on July 3 Potok Charny, only six miles east 
of the Delatyn-Marmaros Sziget railway. 
On the following day they cut the railway 
in the district of Mikulitchin, due west of 



Berezoff, and 10 miles south of Delatyn. 
Parallel with this movement, another advance 
across the hills was carried out from Kolomea 
against Pechenizhyn. Supported by some 
excellent artillery work, the Russian infantry 
forced its way into that town, about seven 
miles west of Kolomea, on the very same day 
on which the movement had been started. 
The Austrians in their retreat were not even 
able to destroy the bridges at Pechenizhyn. 
The clearing of the mountains south of the 
Kolomea-Delatyn road of enemy forces enabled 
our Allies to effect their advance also along that 
main highway. On July 4 they carried at 
the point of the bayonet the Austrian positions 
in the village of Sadzavka (more than half the 
distance to Delatyn). Finally, on July 9, 
the Petrograd official report was able to 
announce the capture of Delatyn itself, which 
had been effected on the previous day by the 
army of General Lechitsky. One of the 
main objectives of his offensive, the cutting 
of the railway which connects East Galicia 
with Transylvania had thus been attained, 
and the second stage of the advance of the 
Ninth Russian Army had reached its victorious 
conclusion. In view of the slower development 

in the north no further advance was now 
intended by Russian Headquarters south of 
the Dniester. In their evening communique 
of July 9 they published a summary of the 
captures made during the second stage Of 
General Lechitsky's offensive — i.e., since the 
conquest of the Bukovina had been completed. 
" According to the reckoning made by the 
army of General Lechitsky. in the period 
from June 23 to July 7 it took prisoners 
674 officers and 30,875 men, and captured 
18 guns. 100 macliine-guns, and 11 caissons of 

The heavy rains and floods which occurred 
in the Dniester region about the middle of 
July rendered the lull in military opera- 
tions in that district longer than had been 
intended. The Dniester had risen nearly 
10 ft. and the Pruth more than 10 ft. The 
plain south of Stanislavoff, which, on a width 
of about 18 miles is traversed by some 14 rivers 
and streams, was becoming impassable. " The 
overflow of the Dniester continues," was the 
Petrograd report of July 20, " the valleys 
situated in the neighbourhood are flooded 
through the rivulets overflowing their banks. 
The slopes of the heights are so slippery as to 






Holding an important command in General 

Lechitsky's Army. 

be almost unclimbable. At many points the 
bridges have been washed away." Only in the 
high mountains, round Tartaroff and Vorokhta 
and in the regions of the heights of the Magura 
and Capul, were our Allies able to continue 
extending their positions towards the Transyl- 
vanian border. 

In the first days of August fresh fighting was 
reported north-west of Kolomea, and also 
north of the Dniester, where our Allies suc- 
ceeded in gaining a foothold on the western 
bank of the Koropiets. On August 7, after a 
month's interval, General Lechitsky resumed 
his offensive, which now entered on its third 
stage. The first attack was carried out round 
Tlumatch, on a front of about 16 miles. The 
" heroic valour " of the German troops did not 
prove in this case much different from the 
" inability to resist," ascribed by them to their 
allies. On the same day on which the offen- 
sive was begun the Russians broke through 
the German front and captured Tlumatch. 
On the next day the movement extended into 
a concentric advance from the east and south 
against Stxnislavoff ; at 6 p.m. our Allies 
entered the town of Tysmienitsa, whilst farther 
north, round Nizhnioff, they captured the right 
bank of the Dniester. On the next day also 
the northern bank was reached in that dis- 

trict by the Russian troops (of General 
Shcherbacheff s Army), which by -a vigorous 
attack against the VelesniofT-Koropiets line 
had forced their way across the River Koro- 
piets. Thus the first Dniester crossing had 
fallen into the hands of our Allies. On August 9 
they captured the railway station of Khryplin, 
the junction of the three railways which 
approach Stanislavoff from the south and east 
(the Transylvanian line, the Czernovitz-Kolomea. 
railway, and the eastern sector of the Trans- 
versal railway). On the same night the 
Austrian Army Command evacuated Stanis- 
lavoff. On the next day our Allies entered the 
town for the third time during the war. 

Count Bothmer could now no longer delay 
his retreat. In the north General Sakharoff 
was rapidly approaching the Lvoff-Tarnopol 
railway, and turning his positions on the 
Gladki-Vorobiyovka front ; in the south his 
retreat by the Transversal line and his con- 
nexion with Transylvania were cut by Genera' 
Lechitsky, whilst the troops of General 
Shcherbacheff were turning his flank on the left 
bank of the Dniester. By August 10 they 
had captured Monastezhyska and even crossed 
the River Zlota Lipa in the neighbourhood of 
Nizhnioff. By August 12 the last remaining 
part of the enemy's winter line of fortifications 
was captured by our Allies. The entire enemy 
centre had to be withdrawn from the Strypa. 
Suffering severe losses at the hands of the 

Commanded the Fourth Austro-Hungarian Army. 



Periscopic work on the field. 

pursuing Russians, the Austro-German armies 
fell back on the Zlota Lipa line, though that 
front had already been passed by our Allies 
in the direct neighbourhood of the Dniester, 
where they had reached the River Horozhanka. 
On the Krasne-Tarnopol line they abandoned 
even the important district and town of 
Zboroff which but a week earlier had been 
visited by Field-Marshal von Hindenburg. 
And, ' again, tens of thousands of peasants 
from these districts were compelled by the 
Austrian Government to evacuate their home- 
steads and trek into exile amongst strangers. 
For. many weary days they travelled in carts 
and on foot towards the west — a picture of 
hopeless, unrelieved misery. In the centre the 
Austrians withdrew to Bzhezhany, the town 
itself being included in the battle-front. "On 
August 11," wrote an eye-witness, 'all the 
Austrian civilian authorities suddenly left the 
town. The last train left it on August 13, 
at 2 p.m. With the flight of the authorities, 
greater liberty came for the people ; passports 
and permits were no longer .required, and we 
were free to leave our houses at night ; bread, 
sugar and flour cards lost their use. Still 
there is hardly anyone left to avail himself 

of the new freedom. . . ." Again, the 
Austrians had carried out their thorough 
" evacuation." 

By the middle of August, when a new lull 
intervened on the Eastern front, the problem 
implied in the second phase of the great Russian 
offensive of 1916 had been solved completely 
in favour of our Allies. The enemy had aban- 
doned his entire front south of the Marshes, 
having lost in ten weeks' fighting in prisoners 
alone well over 300,000 men. The total 
casualties suffered by him in that campaign 
almost equalled the original strength of his 
armies between the Pripet Marshes and the 
Carpathian Mountains. 

Our Allies could watch with amusement the 
changes which, as a consequence of the defeats 
suffered at their hands, were made in the 
higher army commands of the Central Powers — 
it was now clearly beyond the power of any 
human being to reverse the verdict of the pre- 
ceding weeks. It will be remembered that 
directly after the first defeat near Lutsk and 
Dubno the Austro -Hungarian armies in Vol- 
hynia had been put under the command of the 
Prussian general von Linsingen. Moreover, 




Archduke Joseph-Ferdinand, who since the 
winter of 1914-15 had been in command of 
the Fourth Austro -Hungarian Army, was 
replaced by General von Tersztyansky ; and 
General Puhallo von Brlog, who in May, 1915, 
had taken over the command of the Third 
Austro -Hungarian Army,* was succeeded by 
General von Fath, previously in charge of an 
army corps in Puhallo's army. In the south 
Count Bothmer's line and powers were ex- 
tended, and a new army under General KSvess 
was formed in Transylvania to hold the 
lengthened front in the Carpathians. 

It was generally known that as a result of 
the defeats suffered by the Austro -Hungarian 
Armies in the first weeks of June their Com- 
mander-in-Cliief, Archduke Frederick, and the 
Chief of the General Staff, Baron Conrad von 
Hotzendorf, had had to relinquish their posts. 
With the possible exception of the extreme 
" Great-Austrians " no one regretted their fall. 
The Magyars even rejoiced over it, as these 
two generals were known as enemies of the 
Dualist Constitution and of Magyar separatism, 
and were considered enthusiastic votaries 
of a unified, centralized Hapsburg Monarchy 
(die Gesammtmonarchie was their ideal). Still, 

* His predecessor, General Borojevic von Bojna was 
transferred to the Isonzo on the outbreak of the war with 

it was a real humiliation to Old-Austrian pride 
\vhen, on August 2, the Prussian Junker, von 
Hindenburg, was proclaimed sole commander 
on the Eastern Front. A few days later 
a Hapsburg amendment was added to the 
announcement. Hindenburg's command was 
to extend only from the Baltic Sea to a 
point south of the Lvoff-Tarnopol railway, 
thus including, south of the Marshes, the 
armies of Linsingen's group, and, moreover, 
on its right flank, the Second Austro-Hun- 
garian Army under General von Boehm- 
Ermolli. The remaining three armies (those 
of Bothmer, Kovess and Pflanzer-Baltin) were 
put under the command of a new genius from 
the House of Austria, the Heir-Apparent 
Archduke Karl Franz Josef. Born in 1887, he 
had received his commission of second lieutenant 
in 1903, became a major in 1909, and a colonel 
on July 25, 1914 — at the age of 27. A year 
later he advanced to the rank of major-general, 
and in March, 1910, to that of a Field- 
Marshal-Lieutenant. In May he was put 
at the head of the ill-fated Austrian offen- 
sive against Italy, and now he was placed 
in command of the forces on the Transyl- 
vanian border — to retrieve in a struggle 
against Russia, and soon also against our new 
Ally, Rumania, Austria's fortunes and the 
military reputation of the Hapsburg^. 




The Naval Doctor and His Work — Problems of Modern Warfare — Prevention of Disease 
— Nerve Strain and the Seaman's Psychology — The Naval Medical Department — Dan- 
gerous Diseases — The Typhoid Peril — Ventilation of Ships — New Devices — The Naval 
Action off Heligoland — Treatment of Wounded — The Value of Experience — Hospital 
Accommodation — Hospital Ships and Trains — Medical Work in Minor Actions — The 
Pegasus — The Emden — The Tiger in Action, January 24, 1915 — The Dardanelles — Naval 
Mission to Serbia — Royal Naval Air Service — The Battle of Jutland Bank — On Board 
the Warrior — In the Lion — Honours for Naval Doctors. 

IN earlier chapters the story of the work 
of the Army doctor has been told. It 
has been shown how that work fell 
naturally into two divisions, the work 
of attending to the wounded and the work 
of guarding the health of the forces in the 
field. The latter duty was, perhaps, of para- 
mount importance, since upon the mental, 
moral, and physical well-being of its fighting 
men depends at all times the efficiency of an 

The army doctor, however, was not the 
only member of the medical profession into 
whose hands a great trust was committed when 
war broke out ; equally with him the naval 
doctor shared the heavy responsibility. Disease 
was perhaps a less instant menace to the fleets 
at sea than to the troops ashore, but the task 
of the naval doctor was no whit less difficult, 
no whit less important than that of his Army 
colleague. It was, moreover, a task of a special 
kind, differing in essential particulars from that 
of the army doctor, demanding knowledge of 
an unusual sort, and presenting many complex 
problems of a kind not met with in other 

It is a tradition of the Navy to keep silence ; 
silence, also, is the tradition of the medical 
Vol. IX.— Part 111. 

profession. In the Naval Medical Service the 
traditions were joined, and so little was heard 
by the world of the great work which these 
sea doctors accomplished, of the heroism 
revealed by them, of the sacrifices which they 
offered. Yet it is certain that the men of the 
Naval Medical Service performed a task, the 
value of which cannot be reckoned too high. 
They themselves were the shield of the " Sure 
Shield " of our coasts, in that they stood 
between our seamen and the influences threaten- 
ing their efficiency ; they were guardians of the 
well-being of our fleets, just as our fleets were 
the guardians of our national well-being ; 
behind the gun was the man, but beliind the 
man, again, responsible for his steadiness in 
emergency, his fighting capacity, his untram- 
melled use of all his faculties, was the doctor. 

The naval doctor was ready when the call 
upon him came, so ready, indeed, that within 
four days from the declaration of war hospital 
sliips were fully equipped and on their way to 
j oin the Grand Fleet. The equipment had been 
thought out and prepared long before ; had 
been packed and stored in readiness ; it in- 
cluded everything which the wit of experienced 
man could suppose might be wanted during 
and after an action at sea. There was only 




Passing wounded down to the Sick Bay. 

to speak the word and to proceed forthwith to 
the war stations. 

As it happened, this early equipment was 
not required at once ; the great battle which 
many expected during the first days of war 
did not take place, and the calls upon the 
hospital ships were few. This, however, 
is no reason for minimising the importance 
of the preparations made, nor yet for for- 
getting that, in the hour of need, the Naval 
Medical Service was ready just as the 
Navy was ready, fully equipped, fully 
trained, in a position to handle the work 
occasioned by a great battle. Jutland Bank, 
with its fierce incidents, its terrible calamities, 
might have occurred in August 1914 instead 
of in May 1916, so far as the ability of the 
doctors to cope with it was concerned. The 
administration at Whitehall had done its work 
thoroughly in the light of knowledge ; readiness 
had been its watchword for years. 

Nor was this readiness destined to become 
the prelude to a policy of laisser faire while 
the long days of waiting and watching which 
followed the declaration of war ran their 
course. In the Navy, as in the Army, a new 

conception of medicine had during the years 
before 1914 become firmly established. Men 
remembered with glowing pride the gracious 
figure of the surgeon pictured in attendance 
upon the dying Nelson. They recalled, perhaps, 
with wistful thought the fierce setting of 
smoke and flame in which that picture ever 
presents itself ; they thrilled as the eyes of 
the hero rose in their minds. But they knew 
that those old days had passed for ever. The 
greatest office of their service was still, in a 
sense, the office of mercy and of healing, but 
in a sense only. Naval battles were no longer 
as the battles Nelson fought ; vast ships carried 
to sea vast numbers of men ; the Grand Fleet 
was a town, a city, subject to all the dangers 
and troubles which beset the health of cities, 
needing protection from these dangers, depen- 
dent for its efficiency upon the vigilance, th6 
knowledge, and the devotion of its health 

This was the new doctrine of preventive 
medicine ; the doctrine that while few diseases 
are really curable, almost all diseases, certainly 
all infectious diseases, are preventible. The 
Naval surgeon fovind himself faced with a 



harder task than healing the wounds of battle. 
He realized that to his care had been committed 
the health, the fighting capacity of those 
highly trained, irreplaceable men, the gunners, 
the engineers, the signallers, and all the ratings 
who go to make up the strength and efficiency 
of the Royal Navy. He was the health officer 
of a community in which every man counted, 
and in which the value of any particular man 
was beyond assessment. 

The conditions of work, too, were not easy. 
Much was written at the time about the long 
strain of waiting and watching undergone by 
our seamen during those early months, but 
probably the full extent of the penalty exacted 
was not then grasped by anyone outside of the 
Service. On the one hand there was the 
prospect of battle at any hour, on the other 
the weariness of hope indefinitely deferred. 
And later came the anxiety of mine and 
torpedo, demanding a ceaseless vigilance. 

These were menaces to health without 
question, for it is an established fact that a 
man who has been subjected to prolonged 
mental strain falls an easier victim to disease. 

"The nervous strain of being under- shell- 
fire day after day, week after week, and 
month after month might," wrote a surgeon 
of the Royal Marines in Gallipoli, " be ex- 
pected to cause a large amount of mental 
depression and even insanity amongst the 
troops. The expectation was not realized 
in this battalion. During the first six months 
of war on board a battleship in the North Sea 
I saw many more eases of conditions allied to 
melancholia than I did during my stay on the 
Peninsula. Surgeon Beaton, R.N., whom I 
had the privilege of serving with in that ship, 
found, after an exhaustive inquiry, that the 
number of mental cases (both severe and slight) 
was less than 5 per cent, of the ship's company. 
Though I had neither the time nor the skill 
he possesses, in the investigation of the minor 
forms of mental disturbance, my impression is 
that in this battalion there were much fewer 
eases. The mental strain of being under shell- 
fire appeared to be much less than that of being 
exposed to the hidden dangers of mines and 

These observations of Surgeon Beaton, R.N., 


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which were published in the " Journal of the 
Royal Naval Medical Service," were indeed 
of a remarkable character as showing one side 
of the great problem which had to be faced. 
The ship's company which formed the material 
of the investigation was perhaps exceptional, 
for most of the men were married and had 
held, during their shore life, positions demand- 
ing considerable intelligence and necessitating 
much self-reliance. Some had had a certain 
amount of responsibility in civic life, 

The ship under consideration lay for a long 
period at the beginning of the war (over four 
months) in an exposed position on the East 
Coast ; next she went to sea for two days ; 
lastly, she lay six weeks in a protected harbour 
on the South Coast. Surgeon Beaton com- 
mented : " Roughly speaking, the influence 
of the first period was in the nature of a pro- 
longed and monotonous stress. Owing to the 
nature of the position the routine demanded 
was of an extremely irksome type, consisting of 
continual watches, night and day, daily repeti- 
tion of the measures for defence and offence 
possessed by the ship and, save for a very 
occasional route march, giving the men two or 
three hours away from the ship, notliing to 
break the monotony or to give some little 
change to the environment. Recreation, while 
off actual duty, too, presented many difficulties, 
owing to the need for darkening the ship and 
the shortness of tho daylight at the time of the 
year. There was the always-present possi- 
bility of attack by submarine or by ships of 
superior f<5rce, at some times more apparently 
imminent than at others." 

A very careful and important analysis 
was then given of the steps by which a man 
passes from one mental state .to another 
under this strain. This record presents the 
situation with deadly clearness and deserves 
to bo studied by all who would learn how 
much our sailors did and suffered on our 
behalf : 

"The man takes up his duties," wrote Surgeon 
Beaton, " it may be assumed with more or less 
eagerness and pleasure, the unpleasant facts 
of leaving his home and his ordinary life and 
the possibility of danger in the new sphere 
lieing more than counterbalanced by the 
emotional satisfaction arising out of the grati- 
fication of his patriotic instincts. Largely 
influenced by this self-satisfaction, he smooths 
over his absence from his home ; the life on 
board ship obtains a certain glamour : and the 

little difficulties to be encountered do not 
appear on the horizon. There is also the 
feeling of returning again to a life belonging 
to his younger days, of which he undoubtedly 
recalls much that is inviting. He meets a 
large number of entirely fresh faces, and in the 
interest to be found in such circumstances 
his mind is fully employed. 

" It was remarkable to notice how quickly 
the men settled down and merged their in- 
dividuality into the component of the ship's 
conmany. Given a short space of time the 
man has sorted out the new acquaintances 
into friends and otherwise ; the novelty of the 
situation has passed off ; the routine no longer 
demands that close attention which was 
necessary at first, and there is nothing further 
to be discussed in the ship. His mind then 
turns to other more remote matters; the 
possibilities of the duration of the war, the 
probabilities of the employment of the ship 
and the part he himself will actually play in 
the war. Such topics are naturally of great 
importance to him, and consequently they are 
discussed everywhere in the ship. Pass along 
another week or so and these matters have 
been threshed out to the bone ; everyone's 
opinion has been given many times over. The 
newspapers do not help by bringing any fresh 
material as food for discussion, and he is 
completely in the dark as to any movement 
on the part of the ship herself. 

" It is only to be expected that under such 
circumstances discussion of these topics be- 
comes unprofitable and highly unsatisfying 
To a man accustomed to foresee his own course 
of action, it is very difficult to maintain a state 
of intelligent anticipation with so little material 
to work upon. More than that, the effort to 
maintain it in the face of such difficulties, 
coupled with the feeling of helplessness in his 
own destinies, becomes an irritating factor the 
longer it continues. 

" As a result it was found that, as a subject 
of general interest, the war and its personal 
application to the individual ceased to be 
heard. Instead, as a defensive measure, the 
man adopts a condition of more or less unstable 
apathy to his future, unstable on account of 
the setting on one side of his instincts of self- 
preservation and self-control 

" In the meantime, he has been going on, 
day after day, repeating the same evolutions of 
the routine ; and though, as regards the efficiency 
of the ship, the automaticity with which these 






Director-Genera!, Naval Medical Service, 


come to be performed is very desirable, from 
the individual's standpoint the results are not 
so happy. Apart from the actual time while 
on duty, the man has nothing of importance in 
the ship left to think about. The effort, too, 
at maintaining a sufficient interest in so 
monotonous and trying a routine, becomes a 
steadily increasing stress as tune goes on." 

The writer then goes on to show that in these 
circumstances small events tend to assume 
great proportions, and continues : " It will be 
seen from the fact of the underlying stress and 
the failure of satisfaction of the primary 
instincts and habits of the man that the 
emotional background is more likely to be 
dark than bright. The disproportion will there- 
fore probably exist in a direction tending to 
produce a state of anxiety and distress of the 
mind. It must be remembered that this 
anxiety, though outwardly attributable to the 
insignificant event, is in reality the outward 
expression of the general unsatisf action of the 

The extent of such mental disturbance 
depends on the cast of the man's own mind, 
and necessarily varies in each individual. 
Generally speaking, however, the doctors 

had to weigh the factors just outlined when 
visiting the men. 

" The attendance at the sick bay towards 
the end of the period under discussion, showed 
quite plainly the necessity for taking these 
considerations into view in dealing with 
the various minor ailments and injuries 
which came under notice. Mild conditions 
of neurasthenia with hypochondriacal ideas 
were prevalent. Minor accidents all had a 
mental sequence of some kind." 

From this period of writing, the story 
passed to the second period of active service 
at sea. It was productive of very striking 
effects. The relief from the monotony was 
very welcome, and the patriotic emotions 
were stirred anew. Against this was the 
new risk to the individual. What occurred 
was tliis : 

" By far the majority of the men showed 
appreciable relief — a general rising of spirits 
was to be noticed. Work was carried out with 
an eagerness belonging to the early days of 
the war — altogether a sense of satisfaction 
could be felt throughout the ship. In one case, 
however, a fatal result ensued, the man severing 
his carotid artery on the second morning at 
sea. In another, severe emotional crises arose, 
attributed by the man to an alteration in his 
home affairs of which he had just heard. In 
others, the intensity of hypochondriacal ideas 
in cases under observation became much 

In the final period the conditions were 
entirely different ; the men were not continually 
subjected to the stress of imminent danger, and 
they could have a little time ashore away from 
the ship and its discipline. Also they saw new 
people. The writer concludes : 

" It may be said that so far the men have 
come through exceedingly well. Mental troubles 
of a really serious nature have occurred in less 
than 1 per cent, of the ship's company, while 
the mild neurasthenic conditions amounted to 
under ?, per cent, or 4 per cent. The conclusions 
to be drawn can only be that such lengthy 
periods as the, first four months under the 
conditions which prevailed in the first part of 
the war are highly undesirable, and should be 
prevented if military exigencies will permit. 
All the attention possible should be paid to the 
need of change in the mental environment 
while the men are under the influence of such 
continued stress, especially as adequate recrea- 
tion could not be obtained owing to the military 



precautions necessary in such a situation. 
That the results were not more regrettable can 
only be due to the standard of the men and 
their moral, and of that nothing too good can be 

Here, then, was a lesson learned early in the 
war by the naval doctor. But let there be no 
illusion ; the lesson was not learned by doing 
nothing and waiting for events to force them- 
selves upon attention ; these doctors went out 
to look for their lessons. In their own sphere 
they were as watchful as the fighting men 
were in theirs. The minute description of the 
mental state of the men afforded by Surgeon 
Beaton shows how carefully he carried on his 
investigation, how diligent were his observa- 
tions, and how shrewd liis deductions. 

The value of the work scarcely needs 
emphasizing. After all, the good spirits of 
a great fighting unit are one of its chief assets : 
loss of enthusiasm, of freshness of mind, means 
deterioration of all other qualities ; every man 
is then less a man than he was. The discovery 
of the factors which, if given free play, must 
sap energy and damp interest was no small 
service ; the abilil y to indicate a better way 
was. a service of infinite worth. Not in vain 
did the naval doctor constitute himself thus 
early in the war the guardian of that "jolly 
spirit " of the Navy which throughout the 
world has always been it title to love and 

But this after all was only a fraction of the 
great work which the doctor accomplished 
aboard ship. While ennui and depression and 
the strain of prolonged expectancy were 
attacking the minds of the seamen a host 
of dangers no less threatening were attacking 
their bodies. For a great city, be it ashore 
or afloat, is not, as we have seen, kept in health 
by good luck. Hard work, clear thinking, and 
strenuous preparation are the only means by 
which this end can be accomplished. 

No one knew this better than the heads of 
the Naval Medical Department, Sir James 
Porter and, later, Sir Arthur May. Sir James 
Porter, who was Director-General from 1908 
to 1913, laid the foundations of a great new 
system of naval health ; to Sir Arthur May, 
who succeeded him, it was given to carry 
the system into execution and to amplify 
it in accordance with the needs of the hour. 
The broad principle adopted may be summed 
up in the word "supervision." Nothing 
was to be left to chance ; no detail, however 


Director-General, Naval Medical Service, 

in the War. 

insignificant, was to be overlooked ; no pains 
were to be spared. 

It is easy to make light of a policy of this 
kind ; but it is not easy to discount the fact 
that by the exercise of it a number of men 
equivalent to the complete crews of two 
super -Dreadnoughts were presented during 
the first year of war as a gift to Britain. 
Before these measures of protection and pre- 
vention and of inspection were instituted 
these men were in hospital as a permanent 
incubus. Had the measures not been instituted 
they would have stayed in hospital at a time 
when the need of them was overwhelming ! 

The object of these health measures was 
expressed in the phrase " to secure for the 
officers and men in their unavoidably crowded 
conditions on board freedom from infectious 
disease, an adequate supply of pure air, pure 
water and good wholesome food." This object 
was, of course, as old as the Navy itself, and 
the history of the efforts made to attain it is 
a fascinating one. All the great naval com- 
manders, including Anson, Rodney, Howe, 
St. Vincent, Nelson and Collingwood, took an 
interest in work of the kind, and not without 
good reason. For the Navy had been fear- 




Method of lowering 

fully scourged by disease on more than one 
occasion. Commodore Anson, for example, in 
his famous voyage round the world lost four 
out of five of his original crew, and in the first 
nine months 066 men out. of 961 who made 
up the crews of the three ships of war — the 
Centurion, the Gloucester and the Tryal — 
that succeeded in rounding Cape Horn during 
the worst and most tempestuous period of 
the year and reaching the coast of Peru. 
I'izarro, who followed him in pursuit with a 
Spanish squadron, fared worse ; he failed to 
weather the Cape and returned with only one 
ship, the Asia, and 100 men out of an original 
squadron of six battleships and 3,000 men. 
Most, of Anson's men had died of fever and 
scurvy, while Pizarro's men had died of scurvy 
and hunger. Some of our expeditions actually 
failed because of sickness, and among these 
was Sir Francis Wheeler's attack on Martinique 
in 1693. But much later than this, disease 
was the great enemy of the sailor. 

Scurvy was at one time one of the worst 
of the foes, but a naval surgeon, Lind, killed 
scurvy by his discovery of its origin in a faulty 
diet. There remained as dangers up till the 
beginning of the Great War the ordinary 
fevers, especially typhoid and eerebro-spinal 

a man into the wards. 

fever ("spotted fever") and venereal disease. 
From the following table, which is taken from 
an article by Prof. VV. J. Simpson in the 
" Journal of the Royal Naval Medical Service," 
may be gathered how steady was the progress 
of health work in the Navy before the war. 

Annual Death-Rate in the British Nav"! 
from Disease. 
Average Rate of Mortality. 










It was evident that 

death in 8 men. 

30 „ 

72 ,, 

.. 112 „ 

,. 143 ., 

., 256 ., 

,, 298 „ 

.. 311 „ 

„ 309 , 

mobilization having 

taken place, steps must at once be taken to 
arrange for the nipping in the bud of any 
epidemic which might threaten An epidemic 
in the Navy, it must be remembered, no matter 
how light its character, would have been a 
calamity which might even conceivably have 
assumed tragic proportions. Therefore it was 



greatly feared, and every kind of precaution 
was taken to prevent it. 

The Xavy for one thing was a vaccinated force. 
Every man had been vaccinated against small- 
pox, and inoculation against typhoid fever was 
general. It being quite certain, in spite of the 
declarations of well-meaning faddists, that 
vaccination does protect against smallpox, the 
Navy medical authorities rightly refused to 
take the risk of shipping persons who might 
originate an epidemic. And so successful was 
their policy that naval men on leave were free 
to enter areas closed to soldiers because of out- 
breaks of the disease. No ill effects were noted. 

Typhoid fever was always an enemy and the 
utmost vigilance had to be exercised. The 
danger, of course, was greater in the Mediter- 
ranean than in the North Sea ; but nowhere 
was the danger a negligible quantity. A case 
was recorded, for example, in which a particular 
ship showed a constantly recurring series of 
eases of typhoid fever. No cause could be 
found in the water or food, and so it became 
clear that a " carrier " must be responsible. 
A " carrier " is a person who has had the 
fever and made a good recovery, but who does 
not cease to harbour the bacillus. A search 

was made, the blood of the crew being carefully 
examined by the test known as the Widal re- 
action and by other methods, and., finally, the 
evidence pointed to a particular man. Inves- 
tigation proved that this man, who had suffered 
from typhoid fever 10 years previously, had 
infected men in every ship in wliich he had 
been stationed. In all some 53 persons were 
infected, of whom 11 died. The following 
note was made upon the disposal of this man : 

" From the naval point of view he was not a 
safe man to have in any ship where any number 
up to 900 men live under cramped conditions." 
He was accordingly invalided out of the 
Service, the medical officer of health ashore 
being warned about him. 

An even more remarkable case, which 
illustrates how vigilant the naval doctor 
had to be, occurred in Portsmouth Harbour, 
in October, 1914, on board H.M.S. Euryalus. 
In this case some oysters had been bought 
from a local fishmonger, and were eaten 
at dinner, at 7.30 p.m., when most of the 
officers and ward-room servants partook 
of them. Next day the ship went to sea 
Within 48 hours of eating the oysters several 
officers were attacked, and similar cases 

A ward set apart for officers. 



occurred among the ward-room servants, and 
within the next week other cases appeared. 
Finally, typhoid fever was diagnosed in 
the case of a lieutenant, a midshipman, 
and a marine servant. The oysters were 
traced to a contaminated bed, and in several 
specimens obtained the bacillus of typhoid 
fever was found. Unhappily there was no 
law to prevent oysters from this bed being sold 
in Portsmouth, and as ships were constantly 
coining and going to the harbour, the utmost 
vigilance became necessary, since a case of 
typhoid fever on board ship is an ever-present 

The efforts made to control typhoid fever 
met with full success, and except for an occa- 
sional case the disease did not show itself. 
On the other hand the naval doctors had to 
cope with an outbreak of cerebro-spinal fever 
(spotted fever) which reached the dimensions of 
170 cases. A very small number of these cases 
occurred afloat, however ; ten in the Impreg- 
nable, an establishment consisting of three 
ships, used for training purposes, and 12 in 
sea-going ships. As the means nl propaga- 
tion of this fever was not known, the outbreaks 
were difficult to cope with, but a solution of 
a more or less satisfactory kind was found in a 
careful search for '" carriers " and in hygienic 
measures, the chief of which was good ventila- 
tion, the prevention of overcrowding, and 
personal cleanliness. 

The outbreak, which was a land outbreak. 

was prevented from going to sea — a tribute to 
the doctors who laboured to prevent it, and a 
tribute to the organizers who had made ready 
against such a chance. These organizers. Sir 
.Arthur May and the men associated with him, 
were kept as fully informed of the movements 
of their enemy — disease — as were the admirals 
of the movements of the German fleet. Every 
week there came to Sir Arthur May's desk a 
report on the health of every unit, every 
destroyer as well as every super-Dreadnought. 
In that report exact figures were given, and an 
average presented. As a general rule, the 
average of sickness was a point per cent. ; but if 
it rose for any reason, instantly the chiefs of 
the Medical Service knew that it had risen. It 
was as though the foe had been sighted upon the 

3. ~~^^- — ■"""" 4. 

1. Cot-carrier on cushioned tressels, showing the rollers and movable tail-boards in their slots. 2. Tail- 
tail-board has been removed at one end for the purpose. 4. Tail-board replaced and patient ready to be 




horizon. The flecks were cleared for action ; 
measures of protection and measures of offence 
were initiated until the dangerous rise in the 
figures had declined again, and the enemy been 
driven back. Any case of infectious disease, 
measles or typhoid fever or any other fever, 
was notified when diagnosed, and transferred 
at once to an isolation hospital ashore. And 
all the men who had been in contact with it 
were watched to make sure that they had not 
been infected, or that, if infected, they would 
not spread infection from one unit to another. 

These weekly health reports from the ships, 
from the North Sea, from the South Sea, from 
the Mediterranean, from the coasts of India, 
were, indeed, inspiring documents. Each of 
them told of honest work performed in the 

light of an ever-present sense of duty, a love 
of the Service and a pride in it, and also in the 
" doctor-man's " own ship, which made the 
remarkable sick percentage — 0"6 — something 
more than a mere triumph of organization. 

Thanks to these devoted ship's doctors the 
health of the Navy improved during the war 
in spite of shock and alarm, and the long weari- 
ness of inaction. In fact, the health of the 
Navy had never been so good. Writing in the 
first war number of The Practitioner, Surgeon- 
General Rolleston, R.N., stated that the health 
of the Navy had been "much bettor" in war 
than in peace time, and that the figures given 
(1 per cent, to 0'6 per cent.) would have been 
lower, but for the higher percentage incidence 
among the men of the Royal Naval Reserve 
and the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. " In 
two battleships with a complement of over 
1.000 each," ho wrote, "which I happened to 
visit on two successive days, there were only 
two men in the sick-bays. . . ." 

Setting aside for the moment the work of 
inoculation and of inspection, two things 
undoubtedly contributed in an especial degree 
to this splendid result : these were improved 
systems of ventilation and the instruction in 
health matters given by the doctors to the 
crews. The latter was indeed a most important 
adjunct to success, for it achieved the double 
purpose of enlisting the sympathy of the men, 
and of opening their eyes to the dangers sur- 
rounding them. Lacking knowledge, a man is 

5, 6. 

boards partially removed from their slots. 3. Canvas-cot being passed into carrier on the rollers. The 
hoisted out. 5. Patient hoisted. 6. Cot and carrier being passed outboard. 

















































apt to chafe under restraints placed upon him 
by his doctor ; possessing that knowledge, he 
gladly accepts them, and may even carry them 
a stage farther on his own behalf. Sir Arthur 
May, whose policy was ever to encourage the 
friendliest relations between patient and doctor, 
both of whom, he was at pains to emphasize, he 
regarded as brother " sailor men," was an 
enthusiastic supporter of the lectures on health 
subjects which were a feature of battleship life. 
He reaped a speedy reward, for the men entered 
into the spirit of their medical officers. They 
showed their pleasure by taking the advice 
offered to them, and by spreading it ; the 
effects were soon evident. 

The lecturers spoke simply of the great fight 
with disease upon the issue of which so much 
depended. They told of the terrible effects 
of dirt and insanitary condition among men 
living a life aboard ship in quarters necessarily 
cramped ; they indicated the dangers of bad 
teeth, of abuse of tobacco and alcohol, above all 
of venereal disease. Further, they gave in- 
struction in first aid, so that during a battle, 
when the doctor could not be reached, help 
might be afforded to wounded comrades. The 
lectures gave the men a new interest, and helped 
to brighten the monotony of the long winter 
evenings, and they sowed valuable seed, the 
fruits of which were gathered during the 
course of the war. 

But if this method was important, the work 
accomplished upon ventilation was revolu- 
tionary. Ventilation ashore is important, but 
not perhaps very interesting ; ventilation upon 
a battleship proved to be often a matter of life 
and death. A battleship lived by her ventila- 
tion, for unless the air below decks was kept 
sweet and pure, disease had an opportunity ; 
and in actual combat efficient ventilation was 
found to mean clear heads and eyes, and so to 
double the fighting capacity of the men in the 
gun turrets, the signallers and the telephone 
operators who were the nerves between brain 
and hand, between those who planned and those 
who executed. 

The ventilation of many of the older ships 
was notoriously bad, and the crews suffered 
in consequence. In the presence of the fumes 
of exploded charges good shooting became 
difficult in the extreme. On the other hand, a 
man could not remain in that condition of 
physical well-being which was so essential to 
modern scientific fighting if he was being 
" blown away " by a strong blast of air pumped 

into the room in which he worked. The 
difficulty had always been to find a method of 
ventilation which would ensure an evenly 
distributed supply of fresh air without draughts 
The air should, it was seen, be " breathed ' 
throughout the ship, not driven in blasts 
through it. 

In- 1912 a Committee, with Fleet Surgeon 
R. C. Munday as Secretary, was appointed by 
the Admiralty to investigate and report on 
the best methods of ventilating modern 
warships. It is no exaggeration to say that 
the work of this Committee was as important 
in its way as the work of those who devised 
the huge guns they did so much to render 
efficient. A new era in naval ventilation 
was inaugurated. By means of most ingenious 
devices a free and full supply of warmed air 
was secured for every part of the ship ; while 
the ventilation of destroyers was improved 
to such an extent that even the fastest of them 
in the roughest sea could have their living 
spaces supplied with fresh air which might 
be warmed. 

Many men had reason during the fierce 
hours of the Jutland battle of May 31- June 1, 
1916, to bless these ventilation schemes. 
In the gun turrets lives were saved by them, 
while down in the bowels of the great ships 
activities were made possible which other- 
wise had been stayed from the outset of the 

The Battle of Jutland Bank, however, was 
not the first engagement in which the naval 
surgeon had opportunities for practising his 
craft in actual warfare. In a hundred small 
affairs he was called upon to play his part, 
and played it as na\'al surgeons from the 
great Beatty, to whom Nelson addressed his 
last brave words, onwards have ever played 
their parts. At the Falkland Islands, at the 
Cocos Islands, in the harbour at Zanzibar, off 
Heligoland, and elsewhere the same heroism 
characterized this Service, and the same quiet, 
brave work was carried on. 

It is impossible in a chapter such as this 
to do justice to all these deeds, and some must 
be passed over in silence ; but a more or less 
careful survey is essential to a true under- 
standing of the work which was accomplished, 
for our naval actions were very few as com- 
pared with the actions of the armies in the 
field, and each possessed special features in 
respect of time, place and circumstance. 




The Mono-wheel Stretcher and Carrier devised 

by the Rev. Bevill Close, Chaplain, R.N. I his 

stretcher was used in the trenches of the Royal 

Naval Division at Callipoli. 

The naval action off Heligoland in August, 
1914, stands first in chronological order and 
offers a good illustration of the state of affairs 
in the early days of the war. Happily an 
excellent record of its medical aspect was 
preserved by a surgeon who played his part 
in it.* 

" On 28th August (says this writer) ' action ' 
was sounded off. Two cruisers (supposed 
enemy's ships) having been suddenly observed 
had caused us to take up ' stations ' somewhat 

* Th& Naval Action off Heligoland. By Fleet Surgeon 
Walter Hopkins, R.N. Journal of the Royal Naval 
Medical Service. 

earlier than had been anticipated. It was 
quickly discovered, however, that the cruisers 
were our own. Shortly after, therefore, break- 
fast was piped to each watch in turn, and at 
about 7 a.m. the enemy's ships were actually 
sighted. From this time on to close upon 
2 p.m. successive actions were fought between 
various opposing forces in the two fleets. 

" The day was fine and calm, while the sun 
gleamed through a very hazy atmosphere in 
which patches of fog shortened up the visual 
distance from time to time. I remained on 
the upper deck during the earlier part of the 
affair and found it a most interesting and 
inspiring sight to watch our destroyers and the 
Arethusa and her divisions dashing at full 
speed after the enemy, while soon the frequent 
spurts of flame from their sides, the following 
reports and the columns of water and spray 
thrown up by the enemy's shells pitching 
short or over began to create in most of us 
a suppressed excitement which we had not 
hitherto experienced, telling us that the ' real 
thing ' had begun, that an action was actually 
in progress. 

" Shortly our interest was to multiply four- 
fold when the order to fire our own guns was 
given. After a time, shells beginning to drop 
ominously near, I retired to my station, a 
selected spot just below the waterline in the 
after bread-room, one of the few available 
places in a ship of this class where some of my 
party of first-aid men could be accommodated ; 
the other half of the party, in charge of the 
sick-berth steward, being situated at a similar 
station forward. This period one found trying. 
For knowledge as to how matters were pro- 
gressing we had to rely upon fragments of 
information shouted down the nearest hatch- 
way from someone in communication with 
those on the upper deck. 

" The rat-tat-tat ! rat, tat, tat, tat, on our 
sides from time to time as we got into the 
thick of it told vis plainly of shells pitching 
short and bursting, whose fragments struck but 
did not penetrate the ship's skin ; it was a 
weird sound, occasionally varied by a tremen- 
dous ' woomp,' which once at least made the 
paymaster, who was reclining near me on a 
flour-sack, and myself look hard at the side 
close by us, where we fully expected, for the 
moment, to see water coming in. As a matter 
of fact, this shell entered some 40 feet away, 
bursting an entry into the Lieutenant-Com- 
mander's cabin, while its solid nose finally 



fetched up in the wardroom where later on it 
was christened ' our honorary member.' 
For this trophy I believe we have the Mainz 
or the Koln to thank. The wardroom steward 
found a similar piece of shell in his hammock 
that night. It had penetrated the ship's side 
and a bulkhead before finally choosing its highly 
suitable place of rest. 

" The Fearless appears to have borne a 
somewhat charmed life — a large number of 
shells pitched just short and ju-t over her— 
she was hit fair and square by seven, one of 
which played a lot of havoc with middle deck 
forward and the mess gear there. Her sides 
showed some 23 holes of varying sizes, and yet 
her list of casualties was only eight wounded, 
none dangerously ... for suppressed excite- 
ment and vivid interest I should say that the 
seeker after excitement could scarcely ask 
for more than a modern naval action." 

The eight wounded did not give the doctor 
very much work to do. But the engagement 
revealed the fact that work in the distributing 
station of a warship during an action was 
of a kind to test the strongest nerves, and that 
many precautions would require to be taken. 
The doctor was ordered presently to go aboard 
the Laertes, which had been taken in tow, 
and there he found some severe cases awaiting 
him, and he says : 

" Arriving on board I found the worst case 
was that of a young stoker in a serious condition 
from shock and loss of blood. Ho had sus- 
tained several shell wounds, one of wliich 
involved the left tibia and fibula. . . . Around 
this patient the deck was covered in blood and 
so slippery that I had to send for cloths to be 
put down to enable me to keep a footing. 
Near by were two others, somewhat less 
severely wounded, lying on the deck, while just 
beneath me lay two figures covered with the 
Union Jack." 

Thanks to the skill of their comrades the 
vounded had all received first aid, but still 
considerable haemorrhage was going on. 

From this engagement dated the knowledge 
that in modern naval action wounds were either 
very slight or else terribly severe. Further, the 
part which burns were to play in swelling the 
casualty lists became evident. Huge areas of 
burning were seen, " the whole length of the 
upper limb from finger-tips to shoulder as well 
as the face, ears, neck, and upper part of the 
chest." Many of these burns were inflicted 
by the flash of bursting shells, yet it was 

interesting to note that the eyes themselves 
almost invariably escaped injury by the 
flame. This happened even in cases in 
which the eyebrows and eyelashes had 
been singed and the skin of the eyelk's 
badly damaged. It proved that " instan- 
taneous " as was the flash of the bursting 
shells, the power of the eye to detect it and 
protect itself against it was quicker in its 
action. The eye saw and the brain understood 
in time to cause the eyelid to shut before the 
scorching sheet of flame could do its work. 

These burns were not the same as those 
caused by explosions in gun turrets which 
had been hit, and which will be described belr w 

Devised by Fleet-Surgeon P. H. Boyden. 




They were usually superficial, and it was to 
the credit of the naval doctors on board ship 
and in the shore hospitals that in very many 
instances injuries that seemed at first sight to 
be irreparable were so treated that complete 
recovery took place and deformity was avoided. 
Dressings of picric acid were found to be most 
beneficial, though other forms of treatment 
had their adherents — notably the method of 
irrigating by salt solution, introduced by Sir 
AJmroth Wright during the war and described 
fully in an earlier chapter.* 

Of the total of 27 cases seen by this doctor 
there were 5 burns or scalds and 22 shell and 
splinter wounds, 10 of the latter cases being 
Germans. The wounds were mostly lacerated 
and punctured, deep and shallow, of all shapes 
and sizes ; several of them involved bones. 

The men bore their wounds with cheerful 
unconcern: A young sub -lieutenant was found 
sitting in the wardroom with his leg, which 
had a shell wound in it, stuck up on a chair. 
. His only anxiety was to get back to his work. 
Other men showed the same spirit, and the 
Germans were not behind their captors — and 
rescuers — in this. 

The wounds healed well, but it became clear 
that the fact of being at sea did not save 
a wounded sailor from the danger of blood- 
poisoning — it had been believed that on the 
sea this danger was small. The problem of the 
cleansing of wounds which loomed so large in 
the military hospitals of France and Belgium 
at this time therefore engaged the attention 
of the naval service also, and solutions of it 
were quickly devised. 

This battle of Heligoland was a small affair, 
then, from the doctor's point of view. The 
list of casualties, when comparison is made 
with the Army, seems almost ridiculous. Any 
street accident might yield as many. But it 
would be a grave mistake to suppose that on 
this account the lessons learned were unimpor- 
tant. On the contrary, they were of the 
highest importance. They showed the doctors 
what to expect, and they revealed the fact 
that in any great engagement, where smaller 
craft might be expected to suffer heavily, the 
casualties would be severe. New ideas were 
generated ; new possibilities opened up ; new 
methods called for. 

The naval medical authorities at Whitehall 
profited by the lesson in various ways. A 
Committee presided over by Sir Watson 
* See Vol. VI, p. 57. 

Cheyne was set to work to consider the question 
of the treatment of wounds ; the treatment of 
burns received attention ; the danger from the 
fumes of bursting shells, which tended to sink 
down on the decks and penetrate to the cabins 
below and so to cause suffocation, was con- 
sidered and the testing of respirators begun 
forthwith. These steps were doubtless in 
advance of actual requirements, but on the 
day of the Battle of Jutland Bank they had 
their justification. 

Experience dictated the modification of other 
arrangements and more especially of the 
arrangements for the safety of the wounded 
during action. The sick bay was the 
ship's hospital during periods of inaction, and, 
thanks to the work of Fleet Surgeon D. W. 
Hewitt and Fleet Surgeon M. C. Langford, 
these ships' hospitals were splendidly equipped 
and had been brought to a state of the highest 
efficiency. No pains had been spared to make 
them as complete as possible, and it was easy 
to carry out any surgical measures required in 
them. But their position on deck, above the 
armour, rendered them quite unsuitable for 
use during a battle, and against this contingency 
other rooms had been prepared and set apart — 
a precaution the wisdom of which was shown 
when a sick bay and all it contained was 
smashed to pieces by a bursting shell. 

These other rooms were known as distributing 
stations, and were situated one forward and one 
aft, under the armour. It was essential that the 
transference of material from the sick bay to 
the distributing stations should take place at 
the earliest possible moment after the call 
" prepare for action," and as action might be 
imminent at any moment, day or night, it was 
necessary that all preparations should be so 
far advanced that little or nothing remained to 
be done when the order was given. 

As little gear as possible was, therefore, left 
in the sick bay. Further, those responsible were 
advised as to their duties and trained in them. 
When action was sounded, the water-tight 
compartments were, of course, closed and inter- 
communication became impossible ; therefore 
mistakes made or omissions committed could 
not be rectified. A man had then to do the best 
he could with the material to his hand and he 
might be situated in very terrible circumstances 
for the doing of it. Equipment of the dis- 
tributing stations was, therefore, of paramount 
importance and received careful thought and 



The difficulty was space. But ingenuity 
solved this and made it possible to have an 
operating table fully rigged, dressings, anti- 
septics, and other appliances always ready, and 
also to prepare accommodation for the wounded. 
As we shall presently see, these rooms were 
destined to witness some strange and terrible 
spectacles during the course of the fighting. 
For accommodation of the wounded after 
action, the best available compartments in 
proximity were used ; by special fittings 
previously prepared the wounded could be 
slung in stretchers from the roof, one tier of 
stretchers above the other, and in this way 
a large number could be taken in at one time. 

Ashore, preparations as complete as those 
made afloat had been instituted, and the 
wounded from the Heligoland battle were thus 
soon brought to great comfort in well-equipped 
hospitals. Some of them came to the Royal 
Naval Hospital at Chatham, which they reached 
within 24 hours ot being struck down. In each 
case a dose of anti-tetanic serum was given to 
secure against possible attack by lockjaw and 
careful operative measures carried out. An 
arm, a leg, and an eye were part of the price paid 
by the sailors for this engagement, and some 
of the other conditions were of a terrible 
character, yet the cases did exceedingly well ; 
the great cheerfulness of the men and their 

Prisoners from the " Emden " going through physical drill exercise on board a British warship. Captaiii 

Mu'ller (x), who commanded the " Emden." 




heroic attitude even when suffering the most 
acute pain won the admiration of doctors and 
nurses alike. 

The hospital accommodation at the disposal 
of the Navy was not extensive when judged by 
Army standards, but of its efficiency no doubt 
could exist. There were, in the first place, the 
three great naval hospitals — Haslar (Ports- 
mouth), accommodating 1,434 patients ; Ply- 
mouth, accommodating 1,173 patients ; and 
Chatham, accommodating 1,107 patients. In 
addition to these, the Navy had numerous 
hospitals in the British Isles accommodating 
some 11,129 patients, and further possessed a 
hospital for mental diseases at Great Yarmouth. 
Abroad, there were naval hospitals at Gibraltar 
and Malta and other points. 

Nor was private help wanting to add to these 
establishments. Lady Bute converted her 
house, Mount Stuart, Isle of Bute, into a Naval 
hospital, and it was fully occupied from the 
beginning of the war. It had beds for 125 
patients and proved a boon, both on account 

of its beautiful position and healthy sur- 
roundings. Lady Nunburnholme also made 
generous offers of hospital accommodation, 
and provided for Naval patients a fully equipped 
hospital for 220 patients in a locality where 
Naval hospital accommodation was much 
needed. The British Red Cross Society 
equipped a hospital for 160 patients at Truro, 
Cornwall, and the Church Army one for 100 




Wrom plutographst'l"" 



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duting the battle.) 



patients at Dunvagel, Lanark. Princess Christian 
provided funds with which the former bed 
accommodation at Queensferry Hospital was 
doubled, and Canadian women generously sub- 
scribed a sum of £40,000 with which a new 
block was built at Haslar Hospital. In addi- 
tion, many kind offers of help flowed in to the 
Admiralty from all parts of the country, and 
were accepted. 

The wounded men reached these hospitals by 
hospital ship and hospital train, though in many 
cases they were landed directly by the warship 
in winch they had been serving. Weather and 

From hospital ship to train. A train at Toulon with 
wounded passengers about to start for the Riviera. 

circumstance were the determining factors, for 
manifestly in a gale transferences could not be 
made at sea, and, again, a ship which had been 
badly hit might not stay in her rush for port to 
unload wounded. As a rule the Grand Fleet 
returned to its anchorages with the wounded 
aboard ; these were then transhipped to the 
hospital ships, which brought them to some 
landing port whence they were removed to a 
local hospital, or if able to travel comfortably, 
put on the ambulance trains for transport to 
one or other of the naval hospitals. 

The Navy owned 12 of these hospital ships, 
splendid vessels fitted with every kind of 
surgical appliance and fully staffed by doctors. 
Of these 12, nine were constantly employed in 
home waters and three in the Mediterranean. 
The trains were as well equipped as the ships, 
and the hammock-like cots gave them a distinctly 
naval appearance. The system was an admirable 
one, for it allowed of thorough cleansing and 
ensured that no bumping should disturb the 
severely wounded. These trains, like those in 
use for the transport of soldiers, were hospitals 
on wheels in a true sense, so that it may be said 
that from the moment he reached the dis- 
tributing station on his own ship a man was 
never out of the doctor's hands or cut off 



from expert attention. As the distributing 
station was waiting to receive him, in most 
cases, the moment ho fell, his chances of 
salvation were excellent. It is not possible to 
avoid comparing this happy lot with that of 
the wounded soldier eking out terrible hours 
upon the No-man's Land, beyond the reach of 
succour until darkness should have covered 
him. Yet it must not be forgotten that against 
that the sailor had to face the perpetual peril 
of mine and submarine and the chance that at 
any moment his ship might be sunk and all 
chance of salvation lost — for how should a 
sorely wounded man fare in the great hazard 
of the sea ? 

The naval medical service played its part in 
handling the' great exodus from Belgium in 
August, 1914, and also in treating the wounded 
from the ill-starred Antwerp expedition. Men 
from the latter were taken to the Chatham 
and Plymouth hospitals ; wounded Belgian 
soldiers were transported across the Channel 
in the hospital ships Plassy and Magic, and 
about 2,000 wounded French soldiers from 
Dunkirk to Cherbourg in the hospital ship 
China. The medical officers of these ships 
had their hands very full during the voyages. 
The wounds seen were of incredible severity 
in many cases, for at that period field treat- 

ment was not in the advanced stage to which 
it came later. 

Before leaving this part of the subject the 
directions issued to the medical staff of the 
Neptune in 1913 for dealing with wounded may 
be alluded to. They serve to show how well the 
difficulties likely to be encountered had been 
forestalled ; they show also how true an esti- 
mate of the actual needs had been formed. The 
directions were divided into three parts, those 
" On Leaving Port," those " During Action," 
and those " After the Action." With the first 
two we have already been concerned ; the last 
provided that as soon as the action was over 
or there was a lull the stretcher parties would 
march to the places appointed, as shown by 
luggage labels attached to the stretchers. They 
would take first-aid bags of dressings with them 
and hot coffee or beef-tea and drinking vessels. 
On arrival they would move the wounded from 
the turret or other place to the deck and out of 
the way of the guns. They would render first 
aid but not otherwise move the wounded. 

The senior medical officer would then make 
a rapid tour of the upper deck to estimate the 
number and condition of the wounded, and give 
any necessary hypodermic injections, attaching 
labels to prevent the possibility of duplication. 
At the same time the staff surgeon would inspect 

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the main deck. During a lull the surgeons 
would supervise the removal of the wounded 
to a place below the armour, where they would 
remain under care till the end of the action. 

Of great naval actions in the early days of the 
war there were few, if indeed we except the 
battle in the Pacific and the battle of the Falk- 
land Isles. About the former there is nothing 
to be said so far as the surgeons are concerned, 
for unhappily the disaster which overwhelmed 
our ships was fatal to doctor and patient alike. 
Of the latter there is only this to be said — the 
total British casualties in this great battle were 
10 men killed and 16 wounded. This battle, 
indeed, illustrated the tremendous hazard 
of naval warfare and showed to what an 
extent the fate of ships and of men is deter- 
mined by gun power and gun reach. 

But if great actions were very few, there 
occurred a number of small actions of a deeply 
interesting kind. Of these the two which com- 
mand attention most evidently were that be- 
tween the Pegasus and the Kbnigsberg and that 
between the Sydney and the Emden, for these 
were fights of a special character, each showing 
relatively heavy casualties and each revealing 
the naval surgeon in a heroic light. 

The action between the Pegasus and the 
Konigsberg took place off Zanzibar on the 
morning of September 20, 1914. The Pegasus 
was refitting and was therefore taken unawares, 
and though a brave resistance was offered, she 
suffered heavily, being literally battered to 
pieces. In consequence the surgeon, Fleet 
Surgeon A. J. Hewitt, R.N., found himself faced 
with the following casualty list — 24 men of the 
Pegasus and 1 native servant killed, 8 officers 
and 69 men wounded. Of the 3 officers and 
25 men admitted to the European hospital 2 
officers and 4 men died the same day, and sub- 
sequently 8 more men died of their wounds. 

When the action began, two collectingstations 
for the wounded were selected, the stokers' mess 
deck forward on the lower deck below the sick 
bay and the torpedo flat aft, on the lower deck 
below and forward of the ward-room. The 
deck of these spaces was about four to six inches 
below the water-line. The sick berth steward 
had charge of one station and he was assisted 
by a cook from the galley, the foremost stretcher 
party and forecastle party, the other station was 
in charge of the ship's surgeon, who was assisted 
by one cook and the after stretcher parties and 
the poop bearer party. On action being soun- 
ded the cooks brought with them to their respec- 

tive stations a " fanny " of hot water and some 
cold water. 

Each gun had been supplied with a canvas bag 
containing a tourniquet, in case of bleeding, 
bandages, and other appliances. These bags 
were secured under the shields of the guns. A 
similar bag had been supplied to the fore-bridge, 
and various other precautions, which were now 
fully justified, had been taken. 

In his report on the action published in the 
" Journal of the Royal Naval Medical Service " 
Fleet Surgeon Hewitt stated that the most re- 
markable feature of the wounds was the large 
number of minute superficial wounds and burns 
looking like the pitting of black powder, also the 
small penetrating power of the fragments in open 
spaces like the iipper deck. The clanger zone, 
so far as life was concerned, seemed to be 
confined to a small area round the bursting 
space, and although the initial velocity of the 
fragments appeared to be very great, this seemed 
to diminish rapidly, perhaps owing to the 
irregularity of their shape. For example, a large 
number of fragments were removed at a depth 
of from two to four inches, some embedded in 
bone and some in the soft tissues. In two 
penetrating wounds of the skull the entrance 
wounds were of identical shape and size with the 
shell fragments found, but in neither case did 
the missile penetrate more than four inches. 
A leading seaman had his right arm so shattered 
that a primary amputation was necessary, but a 
fragment of the same shell hit the brass buckle 
of his belt, breaking it but not even bruising the 
abdomen. " Small fragments " (continued Fleet 
Surgeon Hewitt) " were also the cause of the loss 
of four eyes, and I am of opinion that a pair of 
motor goggles would have saved all these. A 
case of aneurysmal varix occurred in the right 
common carotid and jugular vessels caused by 
a minute particle of shell which probably could 
have been stopped by a linen collar. In my 
opinion a coat of light chain armour, or even 
leather, with a pair of goggles made from 
toughened motor screen glass would be invalu- 
able to captains of destroyers, navigators and 
others in exposed positions who are likely to 
encounter ships armed with similar guns." 

These suggestions were made at a period long 
before our soldiers and those of our Allies wore 
helmets in the trenches ; they were reproduced 
in an article on the need of protective shields 
and helmets which appeared in The Times in 
the summer of 1915, and the effects of which 
were soon evident in France. Thus the 




Eight minutes after the warsh 

experience gained in Zanzibar was destined to 
help in the agitation which secured for our 
soldiers the great additional safeguard which 
helmets proved to be. 

Many of the wounds met with in the Pegasus 
were of a terrible description and showed the 
devastating effect of naval gunfire. A leading 
stoker had his shoulder smashed to pulp, another 
poor fellow had both eyes and the whole upper 
part of his face shot away, broken limbs and 
lacerated flesh were seen on every hand. 

" Most of the casualties," the doctor wrote, 
" occurred on the upper deck, and the scene that 
this presented can scarcely be imagined. Yet 
there was very little noise on board from the 
wounded, and one was impressed by the death- 
like silence between the periods of appalling din 
caused by the salvoes. Although the ship was 
in harbour and only a short distance from the 
shore no one attempted to jump overboard and 
there was no panic. The moral of the men was 

In this inferno the doctor, Fleet Surgeon 
Hewitt, went about his work according to the 
grand tradition of the service he represented. 
The fumes of the high explosive powder had a 
stupefying effect, causing a feeling of dizziness ; 
the bursting of the shells smote the decks with 
blasts of air which had an unnerving effect ; 
but the good work was not suffered to fail on 
that account. Indeed, the awful scene, so far 
as it affected himself, was dismissed by the 
doctor in a line : " I personally had been 

MAJESTIC," MAY 27, 1915. 
ip was torpedoed by a submarine. 

breathing more deeply than normal in assisting 
a wounded man up a ladder from the after 
torpedo-flat where these fumes were particularly 
dense, and experienced a feeling of nausea and 
dizziness. For several days aft3rwards on deep 
breathing one seemed to exhale the fumes." 

The wounded were taken from the Pegasus 
by boats from the cable-layer Banffshire as 
soon as the firing ceased. All had first aid 
dressings applied and nearly all the serious 
cases had had a hypodermic injection of 
morphia. All were landed within an hour. The 
landing was difficult owing to a rapidly ebbing 
tide and boats being required to return and 
stand by the ship as soon as the wounded were 
landed, for it looked as if it would be necessary 
to abandon the ship. 

Probably this action was, individually, the 
most terrible of the first year of war, so far as 
the doctor was concerned. Fleet Surgeon Hewitt 
faced his ordeal single-handed, and splendidly 
did he vindicate the good name of the medical 
service. His quiet courage and his ability 
undoubtedly went far to mitigate a most fearful 
situation, to save gallant lives, and to relieve 
the pains of those sorely injured. 

The action between the Sydney and the 
Emden attracted the attention of the whole 
world. The exploits of the German raider had 
added to her name a romantic association ; 
her destruction, w-hen it came, was hailed with 
feelings in which admiration had a large place. 

The Emden was sighted about 9 a.m. and the 



battle began shortly afterwards. The doctors 
soon found themselves busy. The senior medical 
officer had begun a tour of the guns as soon as 
the raider was see if the first-aid bags 
were ready, but before he could return to his 
station the guns of the Sydney had opened 
fire. The Emden soon returned the fire and 
within five to ten minutes from the beginning 
of the action the first wounded man was brought 
below. He had a fracture of the right leg and 
thirteen shell wounds and was in great pain. 
Following him came a stream of wounded 
demanding immediate attention. The second 
case had been shot in the chest and the apex of 
the heart was seen beating through a hole in the 
chest wall. Many of the other wounds were of 
a dreadful character. 

At 11.15 a.m. the order "Cease fire " was 
sounded. The medical staff had now been 
working two hours in a confined atmosphere at a 
temperature of 105° F. 

" During the action," wrote Surgeon Leonard 
Darby, R.A.N., in the " Journal of the Royal 
Naval Medical Service," " the spaco below was 
very congested, the tunnel being fidl of men 
belonging to the ammunition and fire parties. 
At the best of times there is little room here, so 
the regular transport of wounded was con- 
siderably impeded. All the time we knew not 
how the fight was going — we could only hear 
orders for ammunition and the continual rapid 
fire of our guns. At one time, when we heeled 
over and the operating tablo took charge, it 

seemed as though the ship had been badly hit, 
but we soon found out that this was only due to 
a sudden alteration of course." 

The wounded meantime were in considerable 
pain and every effort was being made to help 
them. As soon as possible after the action the 
sick bay was prepared as an operating theatre. 
This meant hard work, because during the battle 
this room had been flooded with water from the 
fire mains. Moreover, the task of getting the 
wounded up to the operating room and dealing 
with them was not made easier by the continual 
arrival of new patients in the shape of German 
sailors fished up out of the water, most of 
whom were in a very collapsed state indeed 
One man had been in the shark -infested sea 
for nine hours, but was brought round after 
some trouble and next day was none the worse 
for his immersion. 

Operative surgery was therefore not begun 
in earnest until the day after the battle. This 
was inevitable, for the wounded demanded 
constant attention at first. Early in the morn- 
ing of that day (November 10, 1914) the Sydney 
had reached Cocos Island and shipped the 
Eastern Extension Telegraph Company's Sur- 
geon, Dr. H. S. Ollerhead, to help with the 
German wounded. This addition to the staff 
was welcome — the Sydney carried two medical 
officers of her own — and operations began at 

" Our chief difficulties " (wrote Surgeon 
Darby) " were lack of space and trained 





assistance, and we had vised up all the sterile 
towels on the day of the action ; also there 
was much delay in getting instruments re- 
sterilized . . Late in the day we organized 
a theatre staff from volunteers. They helped 
to clear up, held basins, handed stores and 
dressings, and did much remarkably useful' 
work with a composure that was astonishing, as 
they were present at many bloody operations to 
which none of them previously had been in any 
way accustomed. Surgeon Wild acted as 
anaesthetist and Dr. Ollerhead assisted me with 
the operations." 

The operations went on all day, the doctors 
as usual refusing to spare themselves until 
their patients had been given every possible 
attention. Next day the Sydney returned to 
the Emden, which was flying signals of distress, 
and arrangements began for transferring about 
80 German wounded. All available stretchers, 
hammocks and cots were sent to the Emden 
with a party under Dr. Ollerhead, who did not 
return till the last patient left the ship some 
four hours later. Even then some men who had - 
got ashore could not be brought off till next day, 
November 12. 

This transhipping was an exceedingly difficult 
business, as there was a huge surf running on 
the beach where the Emden was ashore ; the 
collecting and lowering of the wounded into the 
boat was attended, unavoidably, by a good deal 
of pain. The wounded were taken aboard the 
Sydney in the cots and stretchers by means of 
davits, but there was no davit available in the 
Emden. One German surgeon was uninjured, 
but he had been unable to do much, having had 
24 hours with so many wounded on a battered 
ship, with none of his staff left and with very few 
dressings, lotions, or instruments. 

" The Emden," says Surgeon Darby, " was 
riddled with gaping holes ; it was with difficulty 
one could walk about her decks, and she was 
gutted with fire. The wounds of the Germans 
who were brought off to the Sydney by this 
time, only 24 to 30 hours after injury, were 
practically all very septic, with maggots \ in. 
in length crawling over them. Little had 
boon done for them, but now they were attended 
to by our party and transhipped to us as 
quickly as possible." 

This fresh rush of cases soon crowded out the 
wardroom and the sick bay had to be used as a 
dressing station. Soon there was scarcely any 
room to move, for besides the 70 wounded 
received that day there were over 100 prisoners 

and 20 Chinamen from the sunken collier which 
had been attending on the Emden. Operations 
had thus to be discontinued at noon on Novem- 
ber 11, but they began again at 6 p.m. and did 
not stop till 4.30 a.m. on November 12 — a 
period of 10| hours of continuous operating. 
The German surgeon stood at the table beside 
his English professional brethren and took his 
share of the work. 

" All this time," Surgeon Darby concluded, 
" we had to organize and arrange a hospital 
with its equipment and the feeding and nursing 
of patients ; up to now this was turned over 
to the first-aid and volunteer nursing party, 
and they received the cases straight from the 
theatre. In the case of the Germans we had 
a party told off from the prisoners to help our 
staff. We had two large wards, the wardroom 
and the waist deck, and various special wards, 
a few cabins being given up by officers. . . . 
By nightfall (November 12) one could look 
round with a feeling that some impression had 
been made on the work, and later that evening 
the German surgeon and myself went round 
sorting out the cases we could send off next 
day to the Empress of Russia, an armed liner 
which had been dispatched to help us with 
the wounded and relieve us of our 230 extra 
men. It would be difficult," added this gallant 
medical officer, " to imagine a more severe 
test for the medical staff of a cruiser." All 
credit then to those who faced the test and 
emerged from it triumphantly. 

These two isolated actions show clearly ol 
what splendid material our Naval Medical 
Service was constituted. Aboard ship the 
doctors combined with their professional know- 
ledge a seaman's power of adapting himself to 
circumstances and of adapting circumstances 
to the need of the moment. 

This spirit was shown again and again, but 
never more conspicuously than on board the 
Tiger during the North Sea action of January 24, 
1915. The Tiger went into action on that 
day at 7.15 a.m., and at 9.3 the first shot was 
fired. Fleet Surgeon John R. Muir had origin- 
ally intended to deal with the cases seriatim 
as they came to him, operating on each one at 
once ; he soon found that this was an Utopian 
idea. The violent concussion from a gun turret 
near by made operation an utter impossibility 
and necessitated the use of first-aid methods 
only. At 10.50 an urgent telephone message 
came down to the doctor from " Q " turret 
asking for a medical officer and an ambulance 


Admiral de Robeck inspecting sailors on board 

H.M.S. " Canopus." 
party. The doctor, however, knew that it 
was impossible to handle men in stretchers 
through the working chambers and going on 
deck was not to be thought of. He refused 
the request and soon found he had done wisely. 
The wounded readily found their way to the 
dressing stations themselves. 

About 11.30 a 12 in. shell entered the dis- 
tributing office on the upper -deck. This shell 
was very destructive because it exploded 

" Tt blew up the trap hatch in the roof of the 
distributing office," wrote Fleet Surgeon Muir 
("Journal of the K.oyal Naval Medical Ser- 
vice"), "which communicated with the gun 
control tower, killed one officer who was 
standing on the hatch, seriously wounded 
another, and severely scorched the face of a, 
third, all of whom were in the gun control 
tower. In its explosion in the distributing 
office it killed six men and wounded five men. 
In the port 6 in. gun control the same shell 
killed a boy and injured a midshipman and 
two boys. 

" An urgent telephone message was received 
from the gun control tower and an ambulance 
party was sent off in charge of a surgeon to see 
what could be done. This party had consider- 

able difficulties, as the lights had all gone out, the 
alley way was wrecked and the escape up past 
the distributing office, which was the only 
possible route, was blown to bits and threatened 
by fire from the intelligence office, which was 
immediately below the distributing office. 
Thanks to the heroism and bravery displayed 
by a sick berth attendant and two boys all the 
cases mentioned except one, who was discovered 
after the action was over, were brought down to 
the forward distributing station. 

" When they arrived seven were dead or 
expired as they were laid on the floor. The dead 
were laid on one side as decently and quickly 
as possible, covered with a flag, and the wounded 
attended to. . . . There was complete absence 
of moaning or complaints. The explosion of 
the shells caused a black, oily, sooty deposit in 
the skin of nearly all these patients. This was 
readily removed with turpentine, but nothing 
else seemed to have any effect. Soap and water 
and spirit were useless." 

During the summer and aaitumn of 1915 
the naval doctor had opened up to him a new 
field of operation in the Dardanelles. Through- 
out the Gallipoli campaign the naval medical 
service cooperated with that of the Army, 


V > - r.%* 1 


m 1 B* 


R L-**fc 1 

f™3 . - 


Wounded being landed from a hospital ship at 



Transferring wounded from a British warship. 

rendering most valuable assistance and, indeed, 
so far solving the difficulty of the transport of 
wounded from the shore as to convert a situa- 
tion of grave anxiety into one of comparative 
security. Naval hospital ships were in attend- 
ance, and one of the largest of these was the 
Soudan, of which Fleet Surgeon Trevor 

Collingwood, R.N., was the Senior Medical 
Officer. On February 25 this ship arrived 
at Tenedos, and in the evening of the same 
day seven wounded were transferred to her 
from the Agamemnon, which showed signs 
of having been hit by a shell. The following 
day a party of men landed from the Vengeance 


and the Irresistible and more wounded arrived. 
Other wounded came in, and then, on 
March 6, two flight officers fell from a con- 
siderable height into the sea and had to be 
succoured. Wounded were taken in from time 
to time until March 22, when the Soudan left 
for Malta and landed 113 cases. It is interest- 
ing to note that there were no cases of gangrene 
and only one case of tetanus, which resulted 
from shell wounds ; this must be considered 
somewhat exceptional. 

This first voyage of the hospital ship took 
place before the great landing on the beach, and 
it compares strangely with the second voyage, 
which ended on April 25, when the Soudan 

appeared again off the entrance to the Dar- 
danelles. By the evening of that day no fewer 
than 10 military officers and 342 soldiers had 
been received ; by 8 p.m. a total of 430 cases 
were aboard, and the sliip drew off in order to 
allow the staff to work in quietness. They 
performed numerous operations, and then on 
April 27 all the wounded were transferred to a 
so-called " hospital carrier ship " and taken to 
Alexandria. Subsequently, in Ma}', 411 Anzac 
soldiers were treated in five days. During this 
period only four naval wounded were received 
from the Amethyst, which had been under fire 
at Smyrna — a fact which emphasized once 
more the difference between sea and land 

The hospital ship Rewa also rendered splendid 
service at the Gallipoli beaches between June 
and August 1915, during which time she carried 
some 7,000 cases. It was noted by her medical 
officers that while it seemed to matter little 
what types of antiseptics they used to clean 
the wounds, efficient cleansing was all-impor- 
tant ; and they observed further that the length 
of time which elapsed between the infliction 
of a wound and its attention on board the ship 
was an important determining factor upon the 

Wounded seamen enjoying a trip in Surrey. 



result of treatment The doctors had an 
interesting proof of their view, for they had 
cases sent to them from three different beaches, 
each one situated at a different distance from 
the ship than the others. 

Hellas Beach provided by far . the most 
septic type of case. The average time which 
elapsed between wounding and arrival on board 
was from 22 to 24 hours, some cases spending 
as long as three days on the journey. The 
reason lay in the distance of the front-line 
trenches from the beach and also the exposed 
character of the intervening territory. These 
patients too suffered much from insects and 
were hoisted aboard, in the words of the medical 
staff, " black with flies," and very soon after 
the first load or two had been received " the 
decks and wards are also black with flies." 
Many wounds were found on arrival to be 
already swarming with maggots. Gas gan- 
grene came from this beach and from this 
beach only. 

The best beach was the Anzac Beach, 
where the front line of trenches was near the 
shore, and the a\'erage time taken to put men 
on board after they had been wounded was 
five to six hours. Also the Anzac soldiers 
were very fine men physically ; and the flies 
were fewer. Suvla came between Hellas and 
Anzac, the time here being between nine and 
ten hours. 

This experience corresponded with the 
general experience of the war and made rapid 
evacuation of wounded a matter of paramount 
importance everywhere. It bore out the view 
stated by Sir Almroth Wright that it was not 
the wound which killed, but the dirt — bacteria 
and flies' eggs — introduced into the wound. 

The experience, however, meant that when 
a batch of wounded arrived in this and other 
hospital ships the staffs had to work, literally, 
till they dropped. Every moment of delay- 
meant so much more danger for the wounded — 
not merely so much more discomfort. Great 
as the tasks were which often faced these 
doctors, they did not spare themselves ; in 
four trips they actually performed 383 opera- 
tions of various kinds, and that number does not 
include a host of smaller measures : for example, 
easy removal of bullets. A number of interest- 
ing tacts emerged from this huge body of work, 
not the least of which was that the men as a 
whole took anaesthetics exceedingly well. The 
reason was, perhaps, that alcohol had not been 
consumed in any quantity for a long time. 

Men from the engine room enjoying the sunshine. 

" Most text-books," wrote one of the doctors, 
" give tobacco as a reason for ansesthetic 
difficulties, but this did not seem to be the 
case, as smoking amongst all of them is quite 
heavy, especially cigarettes, and indeed a good 
proportion of them arrived on the table with a 
cigarette in their mouth." 

Nursing sisters of the Queen Alexandra's 
R.N. Nursing Service rendered splendid help 
in these hospital ships which lay off the terrible 
Gallipoli beaches, and their task wa^ no less 
onerous and exacting than that of the doctors. 
They did not spare themselves in any way, and 
a,n idea of what they had to do may be gathered 
from the following account written by one of 
them, Nursing Sister Hilda F. Chibnall 
("Journal of the Royal Naval Medical Ser- 
vice ") : 

" Our chief difficulties are the endless 
struggles to get them (the patients) properly 
clean and decently clothed, to endeavour to 
combat the acute collapse, exhaustion, and 
mental shock from which many of them are 
suffering when they reach us — especially those 
from Hellas Beach, who have often been lying 
out for 24 or 36 hours without food, exposed 
to the sun and tormented with flies — and the 
hopelessness of trying to make comfortable 
the men who are wounded in so many different 
places that they can find no easy position in 



which to rest. They all arrive on board in the 
clothes they have worn for many weeks or 
months ; these are usually quite stiff with 
blood and sand, alive with vermin, and almost 
black with flies. . . . The dressings are done 
under some difficulty, especially in rough 
weather, and the most fortunate people are 
those who are slightly built and can easily 
squeeze between the cots ; light wooden 
dressing tables have been made by the car- 
penter's crew, easily carried along the gangway 
but large enough to hold all that is necessary, 

" Work in the operating theatres is very 
different from anything we have ever seen 
before. . . . The patients have had no previous 
preparation. They are carried straight on to 
the table and their dirty blood-stained clothes 
have to be cut right off and the skin scrubbed 
clean before any actual surgery can begin. 

" Owing to the tremendous number of 
dressings done in the ship each day we fird 
that keeping up the stock is a very big item 
in our work. There is no time to cut up 
dressings when the ship is full of patients, but 
after landing them at a port on our return 
voyage to the Peninsula we all work hard to 
make up and sterilize sufficient dressings for 
the next trip As our numbers are limited 
only one night sister can be on duty at a time, 
and with so many cases in the ship her task is 
not particularly easy. However, on one point 
we are all agreed — that we have never before 
nursed men who suffered so much and com- 
plained so little nor seen patients show so 
much unselfishness towards each other and 
gratitude to those who are nursing them." 

These nursing sisters thus rendered noble 
service and took great risks, for it is the way 
of the Navy to discount danger in the discharge 
of duty and the hospital ships came very close 
to the Beaches. They were not attacked from 
the shore, for the Turk fought cleanly ; but the 
presence of German submarines was an ever 
present danger, the German being a very 
different kind of opponent from the Turk. 
Moreover there was danger from the ah-. On 
one occasion the hospital ship Soudan, to the 
work of which reference has already been 
made, had a most unpleasant experience. 
Two trawlers were alongside taking away 
minor cases when a hostile aeroplane appeared 
overhead and dropped four bombs quite 
near the ship ; two of the bombs indeed 
" straddled " her, throwing up fountains 
of water on explosion. There were no other 

ships near at the time and the Soudan was 
lying outside the temporary boom well away 
from the transports. On another occasion 
bombs from an aeroplane fell near this vessel 
and it was considered advisable to have 
two large red canvas crosses sewn on to the 
upper surface of the fore and aft awnings 
in the hope that they might be seen and 

It is impossible in this chapter to deal with 
the activities of the naval doctor in other 
spheres than those which have been indicated, 
but mention must be made in passing of the 
British Naval Mission to Serbia and of the 
heroic work accomplished during the epidemic 
of typhus which raged in that unhappy country, 
A very full report on this epidemic was presented 
by Temporary Surgeon Merewether, R.N., 
Who saw it for himself and took part in the 
brave efforts to cope with it, thus incurring the 
gravest personal risk. 

Mention must also be made, of the work done 
by naval doctors in connexion with the Royal 
Naval Air Service. This work was exceedingly 
interesting because experience soon showed 
that a high measure of physical fitness was 
essential to a successful pilot and hence upon 
the doctor devolved the heavy responsibility 
of selecting or rejecting candidates for the 
service. Some curious conditions were also 
met with, not the least of these being " Aeros- 
thenia," to use the word coined for it by Staff 
Surgeon Hardy Wells. It was found occa- 
sionally among aerial pupils ; the pupil pilot 
was not comfortable in his flying ; he had not 
got that self-confidence which was so necessary. 
He was perhaps too keenly apprehensive lest 
he might make a bad landing or might get an 
engine failure over bad landing ground and 
smash the machine. He went on flying, 
nevertheless, hoping that he might overcome 
this feeling. But he did not overcome it ; 
instead he slept badly, worried, and eventually 
got into a really nervous state. It was found 
that there was only one thing to be done in 
those cases. The pupil had to give up flying ; 
he was not suited for it. Men of proved courage 
sometimes suffered from this trouble, and the 
conclusion was that " it is not given to every 
man to fly ; and to be left alone in the wide air- 
world with no one to consult is a strange feeling." 

Height effects were another type of con- 
dition upon which the naval air service doctor 
had to keep a watchful eye. The trouble arose 
usually through too rapid a descent being 


Wounded . Heroes in a Hospital Ship. 

made. In regard to the question of age, it 
was found that 30 was the highest limit advisable 
in selecting pilots. At first 23 was fixed as the 
lowest because it was feared that boys under 
that age would be reckless in their handling 
of the machines, but this rule was later relaxed, 
and indeed experience showed that lads of 18 
and 19 are most excellent material and that 
very few of them were rejected subsequently 
owing to failure to show aptitude for flying. 

These, many activities gave to the naval 
medical service a broad and catholic character, 
but the actual work upon the fighting ships 
remained the chief claim to honour. How 
supremely heroic that work was was not 
revealed until the terrible day of May 31, 1916, 
when the Battle of Jutland Bank, the greatest 
naval engagement in history, was joined. 

It is clearly impossible to do full justice to 
the work of the naval doctors in this engage- 
ment, but quite enough material is available to 
justify unstinted admiration and to evoke 
heartfelt gratitude in every mind. In all the 
great traditions of the service no nobler record 
can be found than the record of the men who, 
in darkness and danger, laboured without 
thought of self or safety for the benefit of 
their friends and the honour of their uniform. 

Of all the wonderful deeds of that great day 
perhaps those enacted upon the Warrior 
were the most wonderful. The Warrior be- 
longed to Sir Robert Arbuthnot's squadron, 
and at 6.16 in the evening with the Defence 
was observed passing down between the 
engaged lines under a very heavy fire. The 
Defence, flying Rear-Admiral Arbuthnot's flag, 
disappeared and the Warrior passed to the 
rear disabled. They had only a short time 
before been observed in action with an enemy 
light cruiser which was subsequently seen to 
sink. The ships' companies of both the Defence 
and Black Prince were lost, but that of the 
Warrior was saved by the Engadine. 

On the afternoon of May 31 the doctors of 
the Warrior were in their dressing stations 
making ready for the grim work ahead. After 
the first few minutes of the action, however, a 
terrible catastrophe occurred which in an 
instant cut down their effectives and threw 
upon those who survived a terrible new 
burden of responsibility. A shell crashed into 
the ship and destroyed utterly the after dressing 
station ; other shells followed, and finally a fire 
broke out resulting in many casualties. 

As soon as possible, and while firing was still 
in progress, one of the surgeons went along the 




upper deck and the after part of the ship and 
rendered first aid, and in this he was assisted 
by the doctor in charge of the wrecked station, 
who had escaped miraculously. The wounded 
were carried along the decks from the scene of 
the disaster to the forward station, and this 
dangerous work was carried out in most efficient 
and speedy fashion. 

Then, to add to the terrible character of the 
situation, the electric lights went out and gas 
and smoke began to fill the mess decks and 
especially the forward dressing station ; and 
although candles and an electric torch had been 
provided it was very difficult to see owing to 
the dense smoke and consequent irritation of 
the eyes. 

These various circumstances rendered the 
dressing station a kind of inferno. But courage 
and devotion discounted even so great troubles. 
As soon as the watertight doors, which shut 
off one part of the ship from the other parts, 
were opened, the doctors went forth again with 
their stretcher parties to collect wounded 
from the various parts of the ship and to carry 
them to the sick bay and forecastle mess deck, 
which were still intact. Mess tables were 
rapidly cleared away and the wounded brought 
to a place of comfort with all speed. 

But down in the forward dressing station the 
conditions had meanwhile become so bad that 
the atmosphere was dangerous by reason of the 
gas and smoke in it. One of the doctors was 
actually " gassed," but soon recovered ; on 
recovery he began his work again without a 
moment's delay or hesitation, for there was 
much work waiting to be accomplished. 

When the wounded were collected all serious 
cases were placed in beds on deck and in cots 
in the sick bay. Some of the wounded died 
here, but none from bleeding, for efficient 
dressings had been applied. About 9.30 the 
' Senior Medical Officer was ready to begin his 
operating work. 

A bathroom forward of the sick bay was 
selected as an operating theatre. As soon as 
it was ready the surgeons set to work, for 
several men required their attention very 
badly. All through the long hours they toiled, 
knowing little or nothing of what passed upon 
the sea about them, of the position of their own 
ship, of the chances of personal safety ; perhaps 
caring little ; toiling with dogged perseverance 
towards the aim of bringing help and comfort 
to their fellow sailors. 

The work went on without a break, and by 

the light of candles, till 4 a.m. of June 1, when 
all the wounded had been attended to and 
made comfortable. Indeed, at this time many 
of them were asleep. But the work was as yet 
only half done, for just as the surgeons com- 
pleted their task orders came to abandon the 
ship ; the Warrior, which was then being towed 
by the Engadine, was sinking. 

It was well that this order came after a 
measure of comfort had been restored, and 
after the patients had recovered from the 
effects of the anaesthetics administered to 
them, for there was a heavy sea running and 
the ship was moving restlessly as she went to 
her doom. Fierce was the ordeal awaiting the 
doctors, who must transfer their tliirty-one 
patients in that maelstrom. 

Yet the task was carried out, in spite of the 
sea and the rolling and plunging ships. Life- 
belts were put on the patients and in cots, 
stretchers, and sick-bay iron cots they were 
moved from one vessel to the other. All 
watertight rooms were then rapidly closed. 
The Warrior by this time was very low in the 
water, and might sink at any moment ; numer- 
ous seas swept the upper deck as she lay 
secured to the Engadine. It was difficult 
work to prevent the wounded from being 
soaked through. The stretchers and cots were 
held up by men, walking on either side of them ; 
but the movements of the ships rendered this 
task exceedingly dangerous and difficult, and 
unfortunately one man fell overboard owing 
to the breaking of a stretcher. He was, 
however, rescued by an officer of the Engadine, 
but subsequently died. The heroic character 
of that rescue between the bumping, plunging 
ships may be left to the imagination. 

The injuries received by members of the 
Warrior's crew were of the most terrible kind. 
Several bodies were rent in pieces ; many 
limbs were torn from bodies ; some men were 
stripped naked. Among the operations per- 
formed by the light of the guttering candles, 
upon a sinking ship in a gale of wind, were 
amputations, ligaturing of bleeding vessels, and 
removal of shell splinters. 

Magnificent as was this conduct, it was 
typical of that prevailing throughout the whole 
fleet ; indeed on such a night of heroes dis- 
crimination between gallant deeds was almost 
impossible. Nevertheless a few other cases 
may be mentioned in order to show how 
universal was the response to duty by the 
medical service. In the Lion, for example, 



the trouble from gas fumes was experienced just 
as it had been on the AYarrior. Respirators 
and anti-gas goggles were issued to each 
turret, compartment and mess deck As a 
result of this precaution no case of " gassing " 
occurred. Nearly all the casualties occurred 
within the first half-hour of action. During 
the first lull the medical officers emerged from 
their stations to make a tour of inspection. 
The scenes that greeted them beggar descrip- 
tion. Most of the wounded, however, had 
already been dressed temporarily. Tourniquets 
had been applied in one or two cases, and 
haemorrhage thus arrested. But many of the 
wounded were terribly mutilated and broken. 

Happily in this ship the light did not go 
out — though precaution against this eventu- 
ality had been taken — and so it was possible 
to get to work in comparatively good conditions. 
As usual, morphia was administered at once, 
and acted like a charm, relieving the terrible 
sufferings of the stricken men. 

Thrice during the evening the battle was 
renewed so far as this ship was concerned, but 
as each lull came it was found possible to 
remove the wounded to a place of safety by 
means of the admirable Neil Robertson 
stretcher (devised in 1910 by the late Fleet 
Surgeon Neil Robertson, R.N.) which proved 
so great an addition to the equipment of the 
naval doctor. 

After the action was over the injured were 
nursed carefully throughout the night, and 
were supplied with warm blankets, hot-water 
bottles and hot beef-tea and medical comforts. 
Some of the men were terribly burned and 
others mutilated, so that all hope of saving life 
was vain. 

The burns, as has already been indicated, 
were of two kinds, both of which were seen in 
large numbers in the Jutland battle —burns 
from exj^loded gim -charges and burns from 
bursting shells. The former type were oc- 
casioned when an enemy shell managed to 
ignite some of our explosives in gun turrets. 
In these cases the bodies of the unhappy 
victims were often charred instantly so that they 
resembled mummies ; it was an instantaneous 
process of death, and but rarely cases of this 
kind concerned the surgeon. The other type of 
burn was due to a shell bursting near the victim, 
and often involved large areas of his skin. It was, 
however, a superficial burn and very amenable 
to treatment. Various forms of treatment 
were employed, but probably that by picric 



_ _ - -, 


■""■ ~ -^. 





acid was the most successful. The objection to 
picric acid, however, was that it adhered, 
rendering dressing difficult and painful. So a 
trial was given to the method of using 
liquid paraffin, recommended by Dr. Sandfort, 
Medecin-Major in the French Army. The 
preparation was used at a high temperature ; 
it solidified and formed a coating which ex- 
cluded the air, stopped pain in ten to fifteen 
minutes, and afforded painless redressings. 

Not until 7. 30 a.m. on June 1 was it thought 
safe to bring the Lion's wounded up from 
below. The Vice-Admiral's and Captain's 
cabins were accordingly cleaned, dried, and 
thoroughly ventilated, a process which occupied 
a considerable time as they were both full of 
water and smoke, and the Captain's bathroom 
was rigged up as an operating theatre. By 8.45 
a.m. operations began, and 51 cases were dealt 
with. Almost 50 per cent, of these cases had 
burns of the face and hands alone, the reason 
being that the clothing completely protected 
the rest of the body against the momentary 
flash of the bursting shells. The staff worked 
< ontinuously in the operating theatre till 
12.15 a.m. on June 2 — some 16 hours — when 
all the wounded had been attended to. 

" The cheerfulness and pluck of the wounded," 
an observer stated, " were simply magnificent. 
Content to be alive, they waited to be dressed 
with a silent patience admired by all. In 
every case we found that the wounds were 



far more severe than we had been led to antici- 
pate by th3 attitude of the patient." 

This heroic attitude was commented upon 
by all the doctors ; one of them also told how 
on glancing over the side of the ship when 
going into action he saw a raft crowded with 
'•sailor-men" from one of the sunken vessels. 
As the raft floated by the men gave three 
lusty cheers, and then began to sing " Keep the 
Home Fires Burning " until the battleship 
was out of earshot. 

These terrible series of operations, coming 
upon the top of the fierce strain of action, were 


the doctor's most severe test. On some of the 
light cruisers 10 and 11 hours were spent by 
the surgeon in disposing of the mass of work 
awaiting him ; during this period there was no 
pause, a new case being hurried on to the 
table as soon as the case just finished with had 
been removed. Nor was this a mere mechanical 
exercise. The doctor had to exercise judg- 
ment upon matters affecting the whole future 
life of young men in their prime. Upon the 
answer to the question, Must this limb be 

amputated at once or can it be saved ? depended 
often the issues of life and death. 

It is, indeed, remarkable that these men 
were able to carry out their work with so great 
success, and the value of a piece of advice given 
to his colleagues by one of the surgeons who 
bore the brunt of the action is obvious : 

" It is necessary," he declared, " that evpry 
Naval Medical Officer should keep himself 
phvsicallv fit. as the strain of a prolonged night 
action is severe." 

It was found that hospital ships could hope 
to play but a small part in a great naval battle, 
for those ships which had most wounded 
aboard were necessarily those which had been 
most severely handled. Those ships were 
forced in some cases to return quickly to their 
bases and there was no time to unload wounded, 
nor, indeed, any necessity since they could be 
unloaded in much greater comfort in port. 
Nevertheless, many incidents of the Jutland 
fight pointed to the conclusion that ' ' rescue 
ships " might fulfil a useful purpose by picking 
up men out of the water and restoring them. 
In the heat of action fighting vessels could not, 
of course, undertake this work. 

The true sphere of the hospital ship, as has 
already been indicated, was found to lie 
between the anchorages of the Grand Fleet 
and the home ports. Many ingenious devices 
were in use for conveying the wounded from 
the battleship to the hospital ship (several of 
which are illustrated in the present chapter). 
The hospital ships performed splendid service, 
and to their good equipment and excellent 
organization it was due that the horrors of the 
great fight were not prolonged an hour more 
than was necessary. 

Of the men themselves, the doctors, little 



2 HO 


requires to be said. Their work, indeed, 
revealed them and was their true mirror. No 
less was it the mirror of the staffs who co- 
operated with them, the sick berth stewards, 
the cooks, the firemen. Nor must the surgeon 
probationers be passed without mention. 
Medical students, they showed again and again 
superb qualities of courage and endurance and 
much more than justified those who had tried 
the experiment of appointing them. Finally, 
the Admiralty surgeons and agents, civil 
practitioners appointed at most large and 
small ports round the British Isles, rendered 
valuable service, one of them treating no fewer 
than 43 wounded from the Battle of Jutland 
Bank. There were some 1,122 medical officers 
serving in the British Navy, including 528 
entered for temporary service ; and in addi- 
tion there were 370 surgeon probationers 
who held the relative rank of Sub -Lieutenant 

In the list of naval honours appended to 
Sir John Jellicoe's dispatch on the Battle of 
Jutland Bank the doctors were well represented. 
Fleet Surgeon Alexander Maclean was recom- 
mended for promotion because of his gallant 
conduct when " the medical staff was seriously 
depleted by casualties, and the wounded and 
dying had to be dressed under very difficult 
conditions on the mess deck, which was flooded 
with a foot of water from damaged fire mains." 
Fleet Surgeon Penfold, though knocked down 
by a bursting shell and severely bruised and 
shaken, went on with his work " for forty 

hours without rest." He also was recom- 
mended. Surgeon Quine, R.N.V.R., received 
mention because of his " assiduous care of and 
attention to the wounded, of whom he was in 
sole charge for over forty hours," the Staff 
Surgeon having been severely wounded. Staff 
Surgeon Bickford had actually to be ordered 
to place himself on the sick list, and his superior 
officer declared of him that " though severely 
wounded by a shell splinter, he persisted in 
attending to the wounded, only yielding to a 
direct order from myself." A surgeon pro- 
bationer who amputated a leg in the dark also 
received honourable mention. 

These cases, as will be evident from what 
has been said, represent the hundreds of others 
of which no record has been preserved ; they 
show that from top to botlom the Royal Naval 
Medical Service, like the Royal Navy itself, 
was sound, a splendid organization with 
splendid traditions of service, and with a 
sense of duty and of honour which was stronger 
than death. This grand body of men placed 
England in its debt a hundred times ; to 
its Chief, Sir Arthur May, and his staS, 
the Empire likewise owed her thanks. Upon 
these men devolved indeed a heavy re- 
sponsibility. They were the guardians of 
the guardians of the Empire ; day and night 
their vigil continued, for to their hands had 
been entrusted the health, the well-being and 
the happiness, and so the efficiency, of the 
Royal Navy during the years of its supreme 





The Western Frontier of Egypt and the Senussi Danger— Tripoli and Cyrenaica— British, 
Italian and French Objects— The Senussi Sect— Its Part in Recent Wars— Turco-German 
Conspiracy Against Italy— Italian Operations 1914-15— Turco-German Plans for Senussi 
Invasion of Egypt — The Kaiser as " Protector of Islam " — Beginning of the Campaign- 
General Maxwell's Offensive — Analysis of the Operations — The Action on Christmas 
Day, 1915 — General Peyton's Operations — Defeat and Capture of Gaafer Pasha — 
Armoured Cars in the Desert — The Crew of the Tara and Their Release — Occupation of 
the Oases — Sir Archibald Murray's Command in Egypt — The Pacification of Darfur. 

THE general position of Egypt in 
relation to the world war and the 
first attack, in February, 1915, by 
the Turks on the Suez Canal have 
been described in previous chapters. That the 
Turks would endeavour to invade Egypt from 
Syria was clearly foreseen from the moment 
when, through German influences and the 
ambition of Enver Pasha, the Ottoman Empire 
was drawn into the war on the side of the Central 
Powers. An attack upon Egypt from the west 
— from the direction of Tripoli — was not, 
however, anticipated. Therefore when in No- 
vember, 1915, it was announced that it had 
been necessary to withdraw the Egyptian 
garrisons from the western frontier posts 
stirprise was felt at this extension of the theatre 
-of war. Shortly afterwards a considerable 
force of Arabs, Turks and Berbers, under the 
leadership of Sidi Ahmed, the head of the 
Senussi fraternity of Moslems, invaded Western 
Egypt from Cyrenaica, and were joined by 
some thousands of Egyptian Bedouin. After a 
campaign which lasted about five months the 
invaders were decisively beaten, and the danger 
to Egypt from that quarter, if not wholly 
removed, was rendered nearly negligible. 

Although it was hardly realized, the danger 
to Egypt from the Senussi movement had been 
Vol. IX.— Part 112. ' 

very serious — much more serious than the 
Turkish attempts made from the Sinai Penin- 
sula to cross the Suez Canal. General Sir John 
Maxwell, then commanding the forces in 
Egypt, put it on record that throughout the 
summer and autumn of 1915 his principal 
cause of anxiety was the possibility of trouble 
on the Western Frontier, for such trouble 
" might lead to serious religious and internal 
disorders." No danger of that kind arose in 
connexion with the Suez Canal operations. A 
jihid proclaimed by the Senussi sheikh might, 
however, have met with a wide response in 
Egypt, for the order of which he was the chief 
was the most powerful Mahomedan sect in 
North-East Africa, and the only brotherhood 
exercising sovereign rights and possessing a disci- 
plined armed force on a permanent war footing. 
Up to 1915 the Senussi had maintained friendly 
relations with Egypt, but the position was 
anomalous, for Sidi Ahmed had for many years 
fought hard to oppose the extension of French 
authority in the Central Sudan, and he was, 
when the war in Europe broke out, conducting 
a campaign against the Italians in Cyrenaica. 

Tripoli and Cyrenaica (Bengazi) had, it will 
be remembered, become Italian possessions as 
the result of Italy's war with Turkey in 1911-12. 
The Turks, however, had never withdrawn the 




whole of their troops from Cyrenaica, and 
these, aided by the Senussi, continued the con- 
flict with the Italians. At the end of 1914 the 
whole of the interior of Cyrenaica was held by 
the Senussi, and, as the western border of 
Egypt is conterminous with Cyrenaica, the 
Senussi had every facility they needed to cross 
the frontier, where, except along the Mediter- 
ranean and at the oasis of Siwa, there were no 
forces to oppose them. Nevertheless, but for 
Turco-German intrigues Sidi Ahmed would 
not have turned his troops against Egypt. 
The Turks, as has been indicated, had never 
loyally attempted to carry out the provisions 


Commanded (he South African Troops, Yeomanry, 

and Territorial Infantry and Artillery. 

EUiott S Fry 

Commanded Western Frontier Force. ' 

of the Treaty of Lausanne, which closed the 
Tripoli war, and their endeavours to stir up 
trouble for the Italians were greatly aided by 
German agents. Long before Italy had entered 
into the European conflict the familiar German 
methods were employed to undermine her 
authority in North Africa. The efforts of the 
Turks and Germans succeeded in provoking 
revolts throughout Tripoli of so serious a 
character that in view of the European situa- 
tion the Italians withdrew their garrisons from 
the whole of the hinterland, and in Cyrenaica 
they were unable to occupy that part of the 
coastline which adjoined the Egyptian frontier. 
This was an opportunity of which the Germans 
quickly took advantage when the European War 
began. Large quantities of ammunition, 
field and other guns, German and Turkish 
officers, well supplied with treasure, were 
smuggled into Cyrenaica in innocent-looking 
neutral vessels. The presence of these officers, 
and the arms and money they brought with 
them, strengthened German influence with the 
Senussi, and together with the activity, later 
on, of German submarines off the Cyrenaican 
coast, finally induced Sidi Ahmed to break of 
his friendly relations with Egypt. 

The invasion of Western Egypt was thus the 
sequel to the campaigns in Tripoli and Cyrenaica, 
and was directly traceable to Turco-German 



influence. Italy's part in the war in Africa 
has not hitherto been told, nor its relation to 
the invasion of Western Egypt made clear. 
Neither has the significance of the Senussi 
movement in relation to the European. Powers 
whom it has affected been adequately described. 
In this chapter, therefore, these matters are 
dealt with in sufficient fullness to make the 
whole question intelligible. It will be seen 
that in the campaign against the Senussi the 
British, Italians and French were not animated 
by any anti-Moslem feeling ; their objects were 
purely political. The following pages consider 
first the position of the Senussi fraternity and 
their first clash with the European nations who 
had partitioned Africa among themselves, then 
the campaign in Tripoli and Cyrenaica, and 
finally the story of the failure of the invasion 
of Western Egypt — a failure due to the able 
dispositions of General Sir John Maxwell, to 
the leadership of Major-General A. Wallace, 
C.B., and Major-General W. E. Peyton, C.B., 
and to the gallantry of the force they com- 
manded. That force was notable in its com- 
position as representing almost every part of 
the British Empire. It included battalions 
from the British Army, Indians, Australians, 
New Zealanders, and South Africans, the last- 
named making their first appearance on any 
battlefield outside the bounds of the southern 
half of the African Continent. 

The Senussi sect is of modern origin. Its 
founder, Sidi or Seyid — i.e.. Lord — Mahommed 
ben Ali, was a native of Algeria, and was called 
es Senussi, after a famous saint whose marabout 
is near Tlemcen. He was recognized as belong- 
ing to the Ashraf or descendants of Mahomet, 
and in early life was a student of theology at 
Fez. Attached originally to the Khadirite-;, he 
founded his first monastery in Arabia in 1835. 
His connexion with the puritan sect of the 
Wahhabis led to his being suspect by the 
idema of Mecca, and shortly afterwards he 
removed to Cyrenaica (or Bengazi, as it was 
called by its Turkish masters), where in the 
hill country behind the ancient seaport of 
Derna he built the Zawia Baida, or White 
Monastery, which for years was his head- 
quarters. Es Senussi speedily gained a large 
following, notwithstanding the alleged hetero- 
doxy of his theology. He himself claimed to 
belong to the orthodox Malikite rite, and sought 
to revive the faith and usages of the early 
days of Islam. The distinctive tenets of the 
Senussi it is not necessary to discuss here ; it 
may, however, be mentioned that to the 
Prophet's prohibition of alcohol was added a 
prohibition of the use of tobacco. Religious 
tenets apart, the Senussi fraternity differed 
from other Moslem brotherhoods in the exer- 
cise of a steady and continuous political 
influence. Mahommed es Senussi became the 

With members of his staff. 

















I— I 














virtual ruler of Cyrenaica, so much so that he 
aroused the jealousy of the Turks, who re- 
inforced their garrisons and made efforts to 
strengthen their position. The White Monastery 
was inconveniently near the coast and the 
Turkish garrison at Derna, and es Senussi, 
fearing a surprise raid, moved south — in 1855 — 
to the edge of the Libyan Desert. There in 
the oasis of Jarabub (now the most westerly 
point of Egyptian territory) he built another 
monastery, and there he died, some four or 
five years later. A splendid tomb-mosque 
marks his last resting-place. He was succeeded 
by his younger son, known as Senussi el Mahdi,' 
who enjoyed his father's reputation for sanctity 
and greatly extended the political influence of 
the fraternity. Not only were the Arabs* of 
Cyrenaica ever ready to obey him, but the 
Bedouin of Western Egypt embraced the doc- 
trines of the sect, and a Zawia was established 
in the oasis of Siwa — the oasis in which is the 
once famous oracle of Jupiter Arnmon, con- 
sulted by Alexander the Great. West of Siwa 
throughout the Libyan Desert Senussi el Mahdi 
was the acknowledged sovereign of all the 
wandering tribes, and from them and from the 
Arabs of Cyrenaica he drew his standing army. 
Of greater advantage, however, to Senussi el 
Mahdi's revenues and prestige than his lord- 
ship of half a million square miles of the 
Eastern Sahara and the allegiance of the 
turbulent Arabs of Cyrenaica was the domi 
nating influence he possessed over Wadai, 
Kanem, and the other States of the Central 
Sudan, from Nigeria in the west to Darfur in 
the east. The power of the Senussi and his 
reputed- hostility to Christians led him to be 
regarded as a source of danger to the European 
Powers with possessions in North and North 
Central Africa, while Abdul Hamid, then Sultan 
of Turkey, discerned in- him a possible rival 
for the Caliphate. The unwelcome attentions 
of the Pasha of Bengazi, who, on Abdul Hamid's 
instructions, visited Jarabub, eventually led 
Senussi el Mahdi to retire into the heart of 
the Libyan Desert. The new headquarters 
of the fraternity were established at Jof, 
in the Kufra oases, as inaccessible a spot 

* It is cmtomary and convenient, though striclly 
incorrect, to speak of the inhabitants of Cyrenaica as 
"Arabs." There are genuine Arab tribes among them 
but the majority of the Cyrenaicans are of Libyan (Ber- 
ber) stock. They are of the same race as the Tunisians, 
Algerians and Moors, a distinctly white race which has 
adopted Islam and the Arab language. In Cyrenaica 
the Berbers are perhaps more Arabized than in the other 
Barbary States. 

for an invader to reach as any that exists in 
regions at all traversable. At Kufra, too, the 
Senussi sheikh was midway between Wadai 
and Cyrenaica and was in touch with the 
Egyptian Sudan through Darfur and with 
Egypt through Siwa and the string of oases 
lying west of the Nile from Aswan to Cairo. 
Many of the inhabitants of these oases — Dakhla, 
Baharia, Farafra and Kharga — were Senussites. 

Senussi el Mahdi refused to have anything 
to do with Mahommed Ahmed, the Dongolese 
boat-builder who proclaimed himself the Mahdi 
— i.e,, " the expected guide " of Islam — and 
wrested the whole of the Eastern Sudan from 
Egypt. The Senussi shiekh had already estab- 
lished friendly relations with Egypt, and his 
cousin and agent, who lived at Alexandria, 
was a much-courted and wealthy nobleman, 
lavish in his hospitality to Europeans and 
Egyptians alike. Senussi's disapproval of the 
Mahdist movement in the Eastern Sudan won 
for him the esteem of Sir Reginald Wingate, 
and until 1915 the relations between the 
Egyptian and Sudanese authorities and the 
Senussi continued friendly — no doubt in part 
because the political ambitions of the Senussi 
were not directed to the Nile valley. The 
reconquest of the Eastern Sudan by Anglo- 
Egyptian forces under Lord Kitchener in 
1896-98 did not affect adversely the relations 
between the Senussi and Egypt ; indeed, as 
illustrating the anti-Mahdist tendencies of the 
Senussi, it may be noted that the revolt in 
Darfur in 1888-89 against the Khalifa had been 
successful because the tribesmen used Senussi's 
name, though they received no material help 
from him. 

To the French Senussi el Mahdi offered 
bitter opposition, but his action proved that 
he was fighting mainly as a temporal sovereign 
to preserve his authority over the Central 
Sudan States. All the merchandise from these 
semi-Arabized negro sultanates which fringe 
the southern edge of the desert passed north- 
ward through the Sahara, along caravan routes 
controlled by the Senussites. (The merchandise 
included valuable consignments of eunuchs for 
the harems of the East, and slaves smuggled 
into Egypt and Turkey as domestic servants.) 
The Central Sudan had come nominally within 
tne French sphere of influence as the result of 
agreements concluded in 1898 and 1899 with 
Great Britain, and in 1901 the French began 
to occupy the country. At once they encoun- 
tered the opposition of the Senussi, the first 





campaign being for tlie possession of Kanem, 
a State on the north east shores of Lake Chad. 
It ended in the defeat of the Senussi in January, 
1902, and the loss of Kanem so greatly affected 
Sheikh Senussi el Mahdi that his death in May 
following was attributed to grief. He was 
succeeded as Grand Sheikh of the order by his 
nephew, who was still head of the fraternity in 
1915, Sidi Ahmed-el-Sherif, generally styled in 
Egypt Seyid Ahmed, or the Grand Senussi. 

Sidi Ahmed continued the struggle against 
the French until 1913-14. The conquest of 
Wadai, during 1909-10, by the French was a 
great blow to the power of the Senussi, and the 
capture in 1913 of Am Galakka in Borku by 
Col. Largeau* wrested from the Senussi the 
last stronghold they held in the Sudan. This 
was followed by the occupation by the French 
in July, 1914, of Barda'i, the chief town in the 

* Col. Largeau later on organized the French expe- 
dition which invaded Cameroon from Lake Chad. 
Keturning to France, he was killed at Verdun. (See 
Chap. CXXXI.) 

Tibesti Highlands — a great mountain range 
stretching north to the confines of Tripoli. 
Sidi Ahmed was definitely ejected from tho 
French sphere ; into the Libyan Desert they 
made no attempt to follow Mm. It would 
have brought them into the sphere reserved 
by international agreement to Great Britain. 
Two facts are noteworthy regarding the long 
struggle between the French and tho Senussi — 
first, that the majority of the forces which 
opposed the French were not the immediate 
followers of the Senussi, but the troops of the 
States, such as Wadai, whose rulers were 
virtual vassals of the Senussi ; secondly, that 
the struggle against the spiritual head of a 
widely spread Moslem fraternity did not arouse 
any special anti -Christian feeling among the 
Moslems of North Africa. There was no jihid, 
no holy war, partly because, perhaps, the true 
Arabs do not form even a fourth of the popula- 
tion of North Africa, and on the Berbers — the 
great mass of the people — Moslem doctrines sit 
somewhat Lightly. 



It will have been noticed that the final defeat 
of the Senussi in the Central Sudan occurred 
in the middle of 1914, just before tho great 
war in Europe broke out. During the latter 
stages of that conflict Sidi Ahmed had also 
been busily engaged in the north. As has been 
shown, relations between the Senussi and the 
Turks had been far from cordial, but in 1910 
Sidi Ahmed received at Kufra an embassy 
from the Young Turks, who sought to enlist 
the sheikh's aid in the Pan-Islamic ambitions 
which they took over from Abdul Hamid. 
There is evidence to show that the Senussi 
sheikh did not share those ambitions. What- 
ever may have been the views of his grand- 
father and uncle, his predecessors in the 
headship of the Order, Sidi Ahmed, who was 
well versed in European politics, and, through 
his many agents abroad, in close touch with 
the outer world, set at least as much store on 
his position as a temporal sovereign as on 
his spiritual lordship. But when in September, 
1911, Italy declared war upon Turkey and 
invaded Tripoli and Cyrenaica he was moved 
to action. 

It is necessary to remember the distinction 
between these two provinces, the custom in 
England to include Cyrenaica in Tripoli being 

misleading. They formed separate govern- 
ments under the Turks, and remain' separato 
provinces under the Italians.* Though they 
have many characteristics in common they are 
distinct entities separated by the Gulf of 
Sidra. Tripoli adjoins Tunisia ; Cyrenaica 
Egypt, and had the fate of Tripoli alone been 
in question the Senussi sheikh might have 
remained indifferent to Italian action. Tripoli 
not being directly in the Senussi sphere of 
influence. In Cyrenaica it was otherwise. 
Here, as has been seen, the Senussi were in 
strength, and it was through its seaports — 
Bengazi, Derna, etc. — that, with or without 
the permission of the Turks, they drew their 
supplies of arms and munitions and passed 
the merchandise coming from the Central 
Sudan. Through Cyrenaica also the Senussi 
largely maintained their contiu.t with Egypt, 
along the great limestone tableland, the 
Libyan Plateau, which forms the land bridge 
between Egypt and North Africa. Farther 
south the arid expanse of the Libyan desert 
renders extremely difficult any communication 
with Egypt from the west. Tne control of Cyre- 
naica, itself mainly a sterile rocky tableland, 

* The common name for Tripoli and Cvrenaiea under 
Italian rule i* Libya. 




was therefore a vital point in Senussi policy. 
Turkish control of the seaports was one thing, 
but Sidi Aluued knew that Italian control of 
the coast would be another, and for him a 
lar more disagreeable thing. He had lost, or 
was losing, the Central Sudan to the French ; 
therefore it was the more needful to keep open 
his road to the sea. Little as he loved the 
Ottomans, in liis own interests he instructed 
his adherents in Cyrenaica to help Enver 
Pasha (then Enver Bey), who commanded the 
Turkish troops in Cyrenaica, and the Arabs 
formed a valuable part of Enver's army 

In October, 1912, the threatening situation 
in the Balkans induced Turkey to choose the 
lesser of two evils, and on the 18th of that 
month the Treaty of Ouchy (Lausanne) was 
signed, Turkey renouncing her sovereignty in 
Tripoli and Cyrenaica,"' and agreeing to with- 
draw her troops. By a clause which later on 
gave opportunity for much intrigue on the 
part of the Turks, the Italians, in accord with 
their wish to deal fairly with Moslem suscepti 
bilities, agreed to recognize the religious autho- 
rity of the Sultan as Caliph. When the Treaty 
of Ouchy was signed the Italians held in 
Cyrenaica only the chief seaports, Bengazi, 
Derna, Bombah and Tobruk. Their authority 
extended inland nowhere more than three or 
four miles. The position in Tripoli was similar 
and the energies of the Italians were directed 
first to the pacification of that province, whose 
inhabitants showed less determined opposition 
to the extension of Italian authority than did 

* By the Turks, as already stated, Cyrenaica was 
known as Bengazi, after its chief town. Another 
usual name for the province is P.arca. 

the Arabs of Cyrenaica. This task, the occupa- 
tion and pacification of the hinterland of 
Tripoli, was completed in August, 1914, the 
month in which the Great War began. Besides 
Tripoli proper the Italians had occupied 
Chadames and Ghat, as well as the sub-provinco 
of Fezzan, with its capital of Murzuk. This 
had not been accomplished without consider- 
able fighting, but the opposition was less 
serious than might have been expected. By 
the French authorities in Tunisia and Algeria 
the advent of the Italians was officially and 
cordially welcomed as putting an end to a state 
of anarchy on the frontier which had caused 
unrest in the French Sahara. 

When the pacification of Tripoli was nearly 
complete the Italians turned their attention 
seriously to Cyrenaica, where, towards the end 
of 1313, the situation was much the same as it 
had been twelve months previously — that is, 
the Italians held only the seaports. General 
Ameglio was then appointed Governor of 
Cyrenaica, and a considerable force was placed 
under his command for the reduction of that 
province. He had made a promising beginning, 
when, in view of the situation in Europe, he 
rcceivod orders to suspend operations. Italy 
was still a member of the Triple Alliance, but 
she had doubts as to the loyalty of her Allies, 
doubts that diplomatic revelations proved 
to be 'well founded. She therefore determined 
not to lock up large bodies of troops in Africa 
when their services might be needed in a nearer 
theatre of war. Her original rupture with 
Turkey had been precipitated by the know- 
ledge of German designs to obtain a footing on 
the Mediterranean in agreement with the Porte, 





while her conduct of the war of 1911-12 had 
been hampered by objections raised by Austria- 
Hungary to action in Albania and the /Egean, 
and she now had to encounter covert intrigues 
directed to undermining her position in her 
newly acquired territory. 

Bad faith on the part of the Turks Italy had 
experienced ever since the signing of the 
treaty which was supposed to have ended the 
war in Tripoli. From Tripoli itself the Otto- 
man troops had been withdrawn, but a con- 
siderable body of Turks remained in Cyrenaica. 
There, with the aid of the Senussi forces, they 
carried on the war. The Italian troops cap 
tured during the year of fighting were not 
released. For several weeks after the peace 
treaty was signed Enver Pasha himself con- 
tinued to direct the operations against the 
Italians ; on Ms return to Constantinople, 
Aziz Bey took up the command, and held it 
till the end of June, 1913. After the departure 
of Aziz Turkish officers continued to arrive in 
Cyrenaica — the Italian Government was in 
possession of the names of over 100 of these 
gentry — and arms and ammunition reached 
the Turco-Arab force by various means, chiefly 
through the small ports between Tobruk and 
the Egyptian frontier. That the Italian 
Government acted wisely in ordering the sus- 
pension of operations was soon demonstrated. 
In September, 1914, the Fezzani broke out 
in revolt, and the whole of the hinterland of 
Tripoli was shortly involved in the movement. 
This conspiracy against Italian rule was 
attributed to the intrigues of German-inspired 
Turkish agents, though at the time the Italians 
made no charges in public against either 
Turkey or Germany. The German method of 
stirring up discontent in the over -sea possessions 


of States with which she was at peace had been 
exposed in the French Yellow Book issued just 
after the war began. It contained a secret 
memorandum, dated Berlin, March 19, 1913, 
in which the writer stated that it was — 

absolutely necessary that we [Germany] should open 
up relations by means of well-chosen organizations with 
influential people in Egypt, Tunis, Algeria and Morocco, 
in order to prepare the measures which would be neces- 
sary in the case of a European war. Of course, in case 
of war we should openly recognize these secret allies ; 
and on the conclusion of peace we should secure to them 
the advantages which they had gained. The?e aims are 
capable of realization. The first attempt which was 
made some years ago opened up for us the desired re- 
lations. Unfortunately these relations were not suffi- 
ciently consolidated. Whether we like it or not, it will 
be necessary to make preparations of this kind, in order 
to bring a campaign rapidly to a conclusion. 

Tripoli and Cyrenaica were not mentioned in 
this secret Memorandum, but the Italians knew 
that it was idle to expect that German agents 
would refrain from practising in Libya the 
methods adopted elsewhere in North Africa. 
They had had already proof of the manner in 
which Germany regarded her obligations to her 
Ally, for in the war of 1911-12 German naval 
and military men in the Turkish service had 
been ordered to take part in the operations 
against Italy — action which contrasted with 
that of Great Britain, who during the con- 
tinuance of the war recalled her officers serving 
in the Turkish navy.* Sincerely desirous, if 
it could be done with honour, of keeping out 
of the great war which was devastating Europe, 
the Italian Government ignored as far as 

* Long afterwards — on July 6, 1910 — the German 
Government officially announced that " in the case of 
men who by supreme orders took part in the Italo- 
Turkish war of 1911-12, one year of war is calculated for 
pension purposes." The text of the order was repub. 
fished in the Italian newspaper, Idea Nazionah, in 
September. 1916. 























possible the repeated provocations from Turco- 
German sources ; they even passed over at the 
time the proclamation of the Holy War against 
the Italians. It was not until August 20, 
1915, that Italy again declared war on Turkey. 
Towards Germany, for reasons not directly 
connected with the situation in Africa, she 
was still more patient. At the outset of the 
war Germany had sought to take advantage 
of Italy's position to make Tripoli the base of 
intrigues with the natives of Tunisia and 
Algeria against the French. The arrest and 
deportation by the Italians of a party of Arabic - 
speaking German officers who reached Tripoli 
and were making for the Tunisian frontier, 
showed that Italy was loyal to her inter- 
national obligations. Thereafter the intrigues 
were directed into what proved a more fruitful 
channel, the stirring up of disaffection in 
Tripoli and bringing pressure to bear on the 
Senussi sheikh to induce him to abandon his 
friendly attitude towards Egypt. In July, 1915, 
the Italians, through the seizure of documents 
in the houses of Arab notables living in Tripoli 
city and in Derna, became possessed of many 
details of the movement conducted by German- 
inspired Turkish agents, which had already 
led to the revolt in Fezzan and other parts of 
the province of Tripoli. Events in Cyrenaica 
developed somewhat later ; it is necessary to 
deal first with the rebellion in Tripoli. 

In the operations for the occupation of the 
hinterland of Tripoli the Italians employed, in 
addition to troops from Italy, a considerable 
number of men from their Red Sea colony of 
Eritrea, as well as native — i.e., Libyan — 
partisans. The Eritrean troops are nearly all 
Abyssinians — excellent soldiers and Christians. 
Priests of the Abyssinian Church accompanied 
them as chaplains. Their faith and race dis- 
tinguished them sharply from the Arabs and 
Berbers, and their loyalty and bravery were 
unquestioned. It was otherwise with some of 
the tribes who had joined the Italian standard. 
On March 3, 1914, Col.' Miani, with a force 
which was mainly composed of 2,000 Eritreans 
and 1,200 auxiliaries (Libyans), occupied 
Murzuk, the chief town in Fezzan, and a 
column undor Col. Giannini occupied Ghat — 
600 miles from the coast — on August 12 
following. Thus every important point in 
the hinterland was in Italian occupation, and 
an era of peace appeared to have dawned. 
Appearances were deceptive for towards the 

end of September the Fezzani suddenly 
attacked small Italian garrisons between 
Murzuk and the coast and inflicted serious 
losses on the Italians. At first the authorities 
believed that they had only to deal with a 
local affair, but the movement spread, and at 
the end of November the Italian Government 
directed that Fezzan should be evacuated. 
The gallant Col. Miani and his troops fought 
their way back to the coast via Sokna. This 
withdrawal left the garrison of Ghat isolated, 
while that of Ghadames was also in a perilous 
position. Both Ghadames and Ghat are situated 
in oases of the Sahara on the caravan route 
from Nigeria to Tripoli ; ancient towns, now 
in decay, famed as entrepots for European 
and Sudanese merchandise. The townsmen 
were fairly friendly to the Italians, but could 
afford them no protection against the nomads 
of the desert. For the troops to cut their way 
north to the coast was impossible, and that 
reinforcements would reach them in time was 
most unlikely. In this extremity the French 
Government came to their aid, although not 
yet allied to Italy. In Africa, indeed, the 
solidarity of European interests was recognized 
by all the Powers except Germany. Both Ghat 
and Ghadames are close to the French Saharan 
frontier, and the garrison of Ghadames with- 
drew into the Tunisian Sahara, while that of 
Ghat marched over 200 miles across the 
Algerian Sahara to Fort Flatters, where they 
were made welcome. This was in December, 

1914, and the generous action, spontaneously 
taken, of the French was deeply appreciated 
in Italy. 

The ramifications of the conspiracy to over- 
throw Italian authority in Tripoli were not 
then fully known, and General Tassoni, Gover- 
nor of Tripoli, organized expeditions to re- 
occupy both Ghadames and Ghat. After some 
fierce fighting, Col. Giannini again entered 
Ghat on February 18, 1915, and shortly after- 
wards Ghadames was re-garrisoned. The im- 
provement in the situation was only temporary. 
In April, in an engagement with the rebels in 
the Sokna region, the Libyan auxiliaries of the 
Italians went over to the enemy on the field 
of battle, and the Italian and Eritrean troops 
only saved themselves from complete disaster 
by a very skilful retreat. This defection led 
several tribes whose attitude had been doubt- 
ful to turn against the Italians, and in June, 

1915, the Italian Government announced a 
general temporary withdrawal of all garrisons 



in the Tripoli hinterland. The withdrawal was' 
not carried out without serious loss ; loss which 
would have been much greater but for the 
effective help given by the French in Southern 
Tunisia. The last place in the interior to be 
evacuated was Ghadames, the garrison crossing 
tho Tunisian frontier on July 19. By a decree 
of July 15, 1915, General Ameglio was named 
Governor of Tripoli, while retaining liis post of 
Governor of Cyrenaica. Thus the direction of 
the affairs of both provinces was concentrated 
in the hands of one man. Under General 
Ameglio the coast district of Tripoli was per- 
pared for defence. During the summer of 
1915 rebel forces approached within fifteen 
miles of Tripoli city, but the measures taken 
by General Ameglio freed the region to which 
the Italians had withdrawn from enemies. The 
reconquest of the interior was a measure post- 
poned to a more propitious season. 

One object of the Turks and Germans in 
stirring up sedition in Tripoli was to create 
trouble for the French in their adjoining pos- 
sessions. In this they failed. The state of 
anarchy re-created in Fezzan had some effect in 
Southern Tunisia, but the great majority of 
Tunisians remained absolutely loyal to the 
French. In September and October, 1915, 
bands of Tripolitans, led by Turkish officers, and 
joined by Tunisian rebels, attacked some French 
outposts. They were defeated by Lieut. -Col. 

Le Bceuf in three or four stiff engagements and 
peace on the Tunisian border was reestablished. 
In Algeria and the Algerian Sahara the work of 
German agents remained absolutely fruitless. 

The Tripoli revolt was, as it were, supple- 
mental to the main plan of the enemy, whose 
cliief energies in North Africa were concen- 
trated on Cyrenaica, Egypt and the Anglo - 
Egyptian Sudan. In the Sudan the con- 
spicuous loyalty of the Morghani,* tho principa 
Moslem fraternity in that region, counteracted 
the efforts of the Turks and Germans, and only 
in Darfur was there any anti-British movement. 
The Darfur incident itself was a sequel to the 
Senussi movement, and is dealt with in its 
proper sequence. The plots of the Neufelds. 
Priifers, Hatzfelds and others in Egypt and 
the Sudan, though backed by the Egyptian 
"Nationalists," did not have the effect de- 
signed. In Cyrenaica the Turco-Germans had 
a more promising field for their enterprise. 
The Italians had been willing to come to an 
arrangoment with the Senussi Sheikh, and 
though negotiations were not officially opened, 
Arab notables who had thrown in their lot 
with Italy were allowed .to visit Sidi Ahmed 
with a view to effecting an accommodation. 
No interference with the Sheikh's religious 
authority was contemplated, nor did Italy 

* Sayed Ali, the head of the sect, was in January, 191U 
created K.C.M.G. 




.. #*C^ 

Mtftofak: -. ~'2& ; "2j?~\ 




m«Rr -HCuS 


IT. ■ „ . - ' 


propose to occupy Kufra or other oases in the 
Libyan Desert — whether those places would fall 
eventually within the Italian or British sphere 
of influence was still uncertain — but an ackno%v- 
ledgment of Italian sovereignty was required. 
The pourparlers failed, for Sidi Ahmed refused, 
as he said, to accept the position of " a protected 
Bey." He was master of the interior of 
Cyrenaica, and even had access to the Mediter- 
ranean at various points west of the Egyptian 
frontier. While he could not dislodge the 
Italians from the ports they held, nor even 
prevent them from consolidating their ground 
between Bengazi and Derna, he saw that they 
had withdrawn from Fezzan and Ghat, and, 
left to himself, he would probably have been 
satisfied with the situation as it was. Details 
of his relations with the Turks in Cyrenaica 
are naturally lacking, but his actions showed 
that he hesitated long to take their advice and 
commit himself to an attack on Egypt. Had 
the Allied Fleets in the Mediterranean been 
able to prevent any supp'ies reaching the 
Senussi he would in all probability not have 
broken his traditional good relations with 
Egypt. Even as it was, throughout the latter 
half of 1914 and the opening months of 1915, 
notwithstanding the pressure brought to bear 
upon him by the Turco-German party, he 
maintained a correct attitude towards the 
Egyptian authorities. 

Signs that the pressure on the Senussi Sheikh 
to invade Egypt were beginning to take effect 

were first apparent in May, 1915. In the 
previous month Gaafer Pasha, " a Germanized 
Turk of considerable ability," to quote General 
Maxwell's description of him, had arrived in 
Cyrenaica with a large supply of arms and 
ammunition. He joined Nuri Bey, a half- 
brother of Enver Pasha, who was the leader of 
the Turkish party in Cyrenaica. That Turkey 
and Italy were still at peace with one another 
did not in the least affect the action of Nuri or 
Gaafer. At what spot Gaafer landed or for 
how long Nuri Bey had been in Cyrenaica does 
not appear ; a number of Turks and Germans 
gained access to the country by passing them- 
selves off as Tunisians; Egyptians or Moors. 
But not all those who tried to smuggle them- 
selves in succeeded. In June, 1915, the French 
Ministry of Marine notified the capture in the 
Eastern Mediterranean of a sailing boat flying 
the Greek flag, provided with false papers and 
carrying a party of Turks, whose luggage 
consisted of valuable presents for the Senussi 
Sheikh. Other boats were also captured, but 
it was not until the beginning of 1916 that the 
Cyrenaican coast was so well patrolled by Allied 
warships that Nuri Bey and Sidi Ahmed were 
entirely cut off from over-sea supplies. Among 
those who reached Cyrenaica before the arrival 
of Gaafer Pasha was a senator of the Turkish 
Parliament with special knowledge of the 
Senussi organization. He came, accompanied 
by Turkish military officers, and visited the 
Sheikh, then encamped near the Egyptian 
frontier, using all his eloquence to induce Sidi 




Alimed to break with Egypt and proclaim a 
jihad. At that time Sidi Ahmed, who was to 
some extent dependent for his commissariat 
upon supplies imported through Solium, was in 
correspondence with Lieutenant-Colonel Snow, 
the British officer then commanding on the 
Western Frontier of Egypt, and it was chiefly 
owing to Colonel Snow's tactful handling of a 
very delicate situation that a rupture with the 
Senussi was so long deferred. The Senussi 
Sheikh represented to Colonel Snow that he held 
his Turkish visitors as prisoners, and he sent to 
Cairo as his special envoy a leading member of 
the fraternity, Sidi Mahommed el Idris, who, 
on his part, endeavoured to maintain peace 
between his people and Egypt. The aim of Sidi 
Idris appears to have been to get a recogni- 
tion of Senussi autonomy, a matter which, 
however, could only be settled by agreement 
between Italy and Great Britain. It may be 
added here that, when affa.irs had reached a 
critical stage, Sidi Idris was sent by the British 
to Cyrenaica ' ' to arrange negotiations whereby 
the Senussi should get rid of his Turkish 
advisers in return for a sum of money." (Sir J. 
Maxwell's despatch of March 16, 1916.) This 
plan had obvious merits and had it been tried 
at an earlier stage it might have succeeded. 
But it was adopted too late, for the Senussi 
coffers were already filled largely with German 
gold. Heedless of his international engage- 
ments, and of the fact that his country was 
still at peace with Italy, the Kaiser himself did 

not disdain to make a direct appeal to Sidi 

Ahmed. In one of the boats captured while 

endeavouring to carry gifts to the Senussi was 

found an embossed casket containing the 

following letter in Arabic, written by William II. 

in his favourite role of the protector of Islam : — 

Praises to the most High God. Emperor William, 
son of Charlemagne, Allah's Envoy, Islam's Protector, 
to the illustrious Chief of Senussi. We pray God to 
lead our armies to victory. Our will is that thy valorous 
warriors shall expel infidels from territory that belongs 
to true believers and their commander. To this end we 
send thee arms, money, and tried chiefs. Our common 
enemies, whom Allah annihilate to the last man, shall 
fly before thee. So be it. — William. 

This was not the only appeal of the kind made 

to the Senussi Sheikh. Among the documents 

found in January, 1916, by the Allies in the 

archives of the enemy consulates at Salonika 

were 1,500 copies of a long proclamation in 

Arabic addressed to the " Chiefs of the Senussis." 

This proclamation, urging Moslems, on religious 

grounds, to wage war on Christians, was 

discovered in the consulate of Austria, whose 

sovereign bears the title of Catholic and 

Apostolic Majesty. The special correspondent 

of The Times at Salonika who sent extracts from 

this document said that it was not signed, but 

its pseudo-oriental wording clearly betrayed its 

Germanic authorship. The following are some 

passages from this precious document : — 

In the Name of Allah the Compassionate and 

Merciful ! 

Chiefs of the Senussis ! 

You have seen that in consequence of the oppression 

ceaselessly inflicted on your Musulman brethren by 





their enemies, France, England, Italy and Russia, that 
the Musulmans, who once enjoyed freedom, have been 
reduced to slavery and humiliation. These tyrannical 
nations have no other aim but to blot out the light of 
Islam throughout the world. 

Of all the instruments Allah has chosen for the pro- 
tection of our religion the surest is the German nation, 
with its sympathy for Musulmans. These our allies 
have placed the precious help of their policy at our ser- 
vice. They have begun to help us in every way in their 
power to emancipate ourselves from the afflictions which 
our oppressors deal out to us. 

In these circumstances we have realized the imperious 
necessity of proclaiming a Holy War throughout Africa, 
th9 north of which continent has been corrupted by the 
dissolute morals: ntroduced by France, England and 
Italy, and dishonoured by the contempt in which 
Musulmans are held by those Powers. 

In all that region the most powerful ruler and the one 
possessing most authority in the Musulman world is His 
Excellency The Imaum, the Illustrious Exemplar, the 
Champion of Islam in the cause of Allah, who is our 
Lord and Master, Seyyid es Senussi, the Sure Guide of 
All Elect. 

This leader is bred in the truth of the Koranic Law, 
and his soul, shining with its pure effulgence, has under- 
taken the task of purifying all corrupt souls and directing 
them in the path of life revealed by the Holy Book given 
to all Musulmans. 

Your glorious renown, Your grand designs and incom- 
parable bravery, Oh, Chiefs of the Senussis, are known 
throughout the world. All the Musulmans of the earth 
count on your bravery and noble conduct in proclaiming 
and waging a Holy War by which the bright rays of 
Islam will once more shine on African soil, and the 
Musulmans of North Africa recover the rights of which 
they have been bereft by tyrannical nations. 

Appeals to him as a leader of Islam had less 
effect upon the Senussi Sheikh than the 
demonstration that Germany and Turkey could 
r.fford him material aid. A factor that helped 
in his decision to invade Egypt was the appear ■ 
ance of German submarines off the coast of 

Cyrenaica in the late summer of 1915, and the 
success which attended their operations. It 
was some four months after the arrival of 
Gaafer Pasha in Cyrenaica that the first un- 
toward- incident of importance between the 
Senussites and the British occurred. On 
August 16, 1915, two British submarines were 
sheltering from the weather under a headland 
of the coast of Cyrenaica when they were 
treacherously fired upon by Arabs under the 
leadership of a white (? German) officer, 
casualties being suffered on either side. " The 
incident," wrote Sir John Maxwell, " was, 
however, closed by the acceptance of the 
Senussi's profound apologies, and of his 
assurances that the act had been committed 
in ignorance that the submarines were British " 
— the Sheikh may have assumed that the 
submarines were Italian. Nothing noteworthy 
occurred for the next few weeks, but in Novem- 
ber events happened which placed beyond doubt 
the hostile intentions of the Senussi towards 
Egypt. The sequence of events in that month 
showed, too, close cooperation between the 
acton of German subma ines and the Tur:o- 
Senussi forces. 

On November 5 H.M. auxiliary cruiser Tara 
was torpedoed off Solium by the IT 35 ; on the 
6th enemy submarines shelled the Egyptian post 
at Solium, and two coastguard cruisers then 
stationed in its harbour. One of them the 
Abbas, was sunk at her moorings, the other, the 
Nur el Bahr, being badly damaged. The next 

i y 




day, November 7, the British horse transport 
Moorina was also sunk off the Cyrenaican 
coast ; on the 15th the camp at Solium was 
sniped ; on the 17th the Zawia (monastery) at 
Barrani — 50 miles within the Egyptian frontier 
— was occupied by some 300 Senussi regulars ; 
on the 18th the coastguard barracks at Barrani 
were attacked ; on the 20th another coastguard 
station was also attacked. 

The long threatened campaign had begun. 
There is no need to suppose that Germany and 
Turkey, the Powers which had dragged the 
Senussi into the adventure, expected from it 
any great military success. They hoped, how- 
ever, to create such unrest and disaffection 
throughout Egypt that British action in the 
Near East would be much hampered. The 
Senussites believed that even if they could not 
hold, they would be able to raid, the rich lands 
of the Nile Delta. 

The strength of the force at the disposal of 
the enemy is conjectural ; it was not, however, 
less than 30,000. It consisted of a nucleus of 
Turkish troops, with Turkish, German and Arab 
officers, the Muhafizia or Senussi regulars (a 
well disciplined uniformed body some 5,000 
strong) and a varying number of irregulars, 
every adult male in Cyrenaica being accustomed 
to arms. The troops were supplied with 
machine guns, pom-poms and a number of 
field pieces. There was ample camel transport, 
and a considerable number of the Senussites 
were well mounted. The particular in which 
they were most lacking appears to have been 
food. Certainly some of the Senussi camps 
were very badly off for provisions. The 
conduct of the operations against Egypt was 
entrusted to Gaafer Pasha (who was destined 
to become a prisoner of the British). Sidi 
Ahmed and Nuri Bey were also usually with 
the main body of their troops. Whatever the 
strength of the combined Turco-Senussi army, 
a proportion of it had to guard the rear, that is 
to watch the Italian garrisons at Bengazi, 
Derna and Tobruk, while another part was 
detached to seize Siwa and other oases west of 
the Nile. 

British troops, the 1/lst North Midland 
Mounted Brigade, with the Berks Battery, 
R.H.A., were sent to garrison the Fayum, and 
cavalry of the Egyptian Army with a Bikaner 
Camel Corps detachment occupied the Wadi 
Natrun. These were the two oases nearest the 
Nile. Other measures, such as placing a garri- 

son at Damanhur, between Cairo and Alex- 
andria, were taken to ensure the tranquillity of 
the Delta region west of the Nile. As to the 
Bedouin of the Libyan Plateau, mostly mem- 
bers of the Walid Ali tribe, all within the 
sphere of Sidi Ahmed"s operations, which rapidly 
extended over 200 miles of Egyptian territory, 
joined his standard. Thus in numbers his force 
was more than doubled, though its miUtary 
value was not greatly increased. But should 
the Senussites have gained any striking 
advantage hostile outbreaks in Egypt itself, 
where agitation was rife, would have been very 
probable. Even in Alexandria the Senussi 
had many adherents, and his prestige was 
increased by the measures which Gen. 
Maxwell now ordered, the withdrawal of the 
Egyptian garrisons from Solium, Sidi el Bar- 
rini, and other outposts. Siwa also fell to the 
Senussi as well as el Gara (Qara) and Moghara, 
oases, at the foot of the southern escarpment of 
the Libyan Plateau, on the way to Cairo by 
the Wadi Natrun. The more southern oases, 
Baharia, Farafra, etc., were for the time 
unoccupied either by enemy or British troops. 
They too led to the Nile, but the main advance 
of the enemy was necessarily along the plateau 
which separates the Libyan Desert from the sea. 
This plateau, known as the Libyan Desert 
Plateau, rises abruptly above the Mediter- 
ranean. Its level varies from 300 to 600 feet, 
it is composed of limestone, and large areas 
of the surface are bare rock, golden coloured. 
Other areas are covered with a thin layer of 
soil and in depressions and dry river beds camel 
thorn and coarse grass are found. Numerous 
isolated hills rise above the tableland. The sea- 
ward face of the plateau is almost everywhere 
precipitous. The country receives a fairly 
heavy winter rainfall, but it has no streams 
and is therefore only traversable along routes 
where water can be found in wells or springs. 
From time immemorial the main road across 
this desolate land has kept close to the Mediter- 
ranean, and the only considerable centres of 
population are found along the coast. The 
chief town is Mersa Matruh, about 200 miles 
west of Alexandria, and 150 east of Solium. 
As its name (mersa=harbour) implies, it is a 
port,* and around it is a fairly large cultivated 
area, barley of excellent quality being raised. 
At Matruh itself there is a European popula- 
tion, mainly Greek and Italian, of about 200. 

*It replaces theParatonium of Ptolemaic and Roman 



Within 12 hours' journey by water from Alex- 
andria, Matruh was chosen as the British 
base, and to it the advanced garrisons at Barrini 
and Solium were withdrawn — not without the 
defection of 12 native officers, two cadets and 
120 other ranks to the Senussi. These all 
belonged to the Egyptian Coastguard Camel 
Corps, and their desertion was significant of 
what might happen on a larger scale if circum- 
stances favoured the enemy. While the sea 
route to Matruh was the chief means of trans- 
port, a secondary means of communication was 
afforded by the railway which runs west from 
Alexandria. This line, when hostilities began, 
had reached Dabaa, 85 miles short of Matruh. 
Thence by Matruh as far as Solium a motor 
service was ordinarily maintained.* 

Starting from Bir Warr and Msead, camps 
some .v hat west of Solium, the enemy rapidly 
overran the country as far east as Dabaa, 
but the prompt measures taken by Gen. 
Maxwell prevented any danger of Matruh and 
Dabaa being captured Gen. Maxwell wisely 
decided that the best way to deal with the 
situation was by a vigorous offensive. In view 

* Both railway and road were built by the ex-Khedive 
Abbas Hilmi Pasha, the railway being generally known 
as the line, while the road is called the Khedivia! 
Motor Road. A road, however, was in existence and 
in constant use in Roman times between Alexandria 
and Matruh, and along it are many broken wells and 
cisterns dating from the first to the fourth centuries. 

of the danger of a rising in Egypt, should the 

enemy approach the Nile, it was imperative to 

keep the sphere of hostilities as far as possible 

west of the Delta. This meant as bold an 

offensive as was consistent with not running 

the risk of a serious reverse. For all that the 

force immediately available for service was 

neither large nor homogeneous. Orders for 

the formation of a Western Frontier Force, 

consisting of a Composite Mounted Brigade and 

a Composite Infantry Brigade, were issued on 

November 20, Major-Gen. A. Wallace, C.B., 

being given the command. 

This force, the best available in Egypt at the moment, 
was by no means well adapted to the task which lay be- 
fore it. Regiments and staffs had been somewhat hastily 
collected, and were not well known to one another. 
The Composite Yeomanry Brigade, to give an instance, 
contained men from 20 or more different regiments. 
. . . The composition [of the force] was constantly 
changing, and it was not until the middle of February 
that the condition of the Western Frontier Force could 
be considered really satisfactory. (Sir J. Maxwell's 
Dispatch, March 1, 1916.) 

It is interesting to set forth the original 
composition of this force and to note how it was 
gradually changed till it came to represent 
practically every part of the Empire except 
Canada. On December 7, when Gen. Wallace 
took up his headquarters at Matruh, the 
Mounted Brigade, which was under Brigadier- 
Gen. Tyndale Biscoe, was made up of : 

Three Composite Yeomaniy Regiments (from details 
2nd Mounted Division). 





One Composite Regiment Australian Light Horse 
from details Australian L.H. Brigades). 
Notts Battery R.H.A. ( I'.F. ) and Ammunition Column. 

Part of this Brigade (five squadrons) was. at 

Dabaa ; the rest at Matruh. Brigadier-Gen. Lord 

Lucan commanded the Infantry Brigade, which 

was made up as follows : — 

l/6th Batt. Royal Scots (T.F.). 
2/7th Batt. Middlesex Regt. (T.F.). 
2/8th Batt. Middlesex Regt. (T.F.). 
15th Sikhs. 

There was also a squadron of the Royal 
Flying Corps. The Divisional Train was 
supplied by the 1st Australian Division and, no 
Royal Engineers being available, Gen. Wallace 
was given a detachment of the Egyptian Army 
Military Works Department. Besides this 
newly raised force, Gen. Wallace also had the 
normal garrison of the Western Frontier. This 
consisted of a small British force and detach- 
ments from the Egyptian Army. There were, 
in addition, a squadron of the Royal Naval 
Armoured Car Division, which had been rushed 
up at the first sign of serious trouble and 
stationed along the Alexandria-Dabaa railway ; 
the 2nd Batt. New Zealand Rifle Brigade.* 
150 men of the Bikanir Camel Corps (with an 
Egyptian Army machine-gun section) ; and one 
armoured train, manned by the l/10th Gurkha 
Rifles, with two 12J-pounders of the Egyptian 

* A few weeks later the 161st Brigade (54th Division) 
relieved the New Zealanders on the lines of communica- 

Army Artillery. Thus Gen. Wallace began his 
campaign with " a scratch lot " of Yeomanry, 
Territorials, Australians, New Zealanders, 
Indians and Egyptians. No " scratch lot " of 
men rendered better service than did the 
original units of Gen. Wallace's command. 
Only the three Territorial regiments and the 
Notts Battery R.H.A. , however, saw the cam- 
paign through from start to finish. The 
commander, it will be realized, had many dif- 
ficulties to meet heyond those caused by the 
enemy. One of the most serious of these 
difficulties remains to be mentioned — the lack 
of sufficient and suitable transport made it 
necessary for Gen. Wallace to withdraw his 
troops to Matruh after every engagement. 

The first encounter with the enemy occurred 
on December 1 1 , and on that day and on the 
13th there were sharp fights west and south of 
Matruh, the Senussi holding in considerable 
strength the Wadi Senaab, which runs south 
from the coast. Owing to the " bad going " the 
infantry employed (the Sikhs) could take no 
part in the fight on December 1 1 , but the 
Yeomanry, aided by a squadron of the Aus- 
tralian Light Horse and the armoured cars, 
cleared the Wadi Senaab, the enemy losing 
over 100 in killed and wounded. The British* 

* Here as elsewhere in this chapter the term " British 
casualties" is used to include all ranks under British 
command — whether Dominion or Indian or the British 
Army proper. 




Occupied by the Force under Maj 

casualties were 32. Lieut. -Col. Snow, who, 
until the formation of Gen. Wallace's force 
had been in command on the Western Frontier, 
was killed by an Arab whom he was endeavour- 
ing to persuade to surrender. He had been 25 
years in the Egyptian Coastguard Service and 
was intimately acquainted with the country and 
its inhabitants, and his death was a severe loss 
to the force. The column camped on the field 

or-General Peyton, March 14, 1916. 

on the Uth, and on the 12th rounded up some 
prisoners. On the 13th, reinforced by the 
Royal Scots, the column started, at 8 a.m., to 
engage the enemy at a spot 1 3 miles distant ; 
but, on crossing a wadi (the Wadi Shaifa) they 
were themselves attacked with considerable 
vigour by a force estimated at about 1,200, 
with two guns and machine-guns. Only the 
opportune arrival of reinforcements from 



Searching a Senussi encampment outside Solium. 

Matruh turned the day against the Senussites, 
who lost 180 in killed alone. The British 
casualties were nine killed and 56 wounded. 
The column pursued the enemy till dark and 
the next day returned to Matruh. The chief 
result of these actions on December 11 and 13 
was to show Gen. Wallace that he was not 
strong enough to risk a decisive engagement. 
He asked for reinforcements and, in the third 

week of December, was given the 1st Batt. 
New Zealand R.B., two naval 4'1 in. guns, 
and " A " Battery Hon. Artillery Co. 

Thus strengthened, Gen. Wallace again 
engaged the enemy, the action being fought 
on Christmas Day, 1915. The main Senussi 
force was then near Gebel Medwa, a hill some 
eight miles south-west of Matruh. Gaafer 
Pasha was in command, and from air recon- 




naissance and other sources the British esti- 
mated his strength in infantry, cavalry, and 
artillery, to be about 5,000, of whom more 
than half were Mahafizia (regulars). Gebel 
Medwa was within a few miles of the sea, and 
on the 25th Gen. Wallace arranged with the 
commander of H.M.S. Clematis — which vigil- 
antly patrolled the coast — that he should 
sujiport the attack on the hill with gun-fire 
from the sea. Gen. Wallace, in personal com- 
mand, moved out from Matruh before daylight 
on Christmas morning. He divided his force 
into two columns. The Right Column, under 
Lieut. -Col. J. L. R. Gordon, 15th Sikhs, included 
the bulk of the infantry, with the Bucks Hussars 
and a section of Horse Artillery, and its task 
was to advance along the coast road directly 
on the enemy. The Left Column, under 
Brigadier-Gen. Tyndale Biscoe, was made up of 
mounted troops and Horse Artillery, and was 
directed to make a wide detour round the 
right flank of the enemy and cut off his retreat 
westward. As Col. Gordon's column moved 

out, it came under sharp artillery and machine- 
gun fire, but by 7.15 a.m., having marched 
seven miles. Col. Gordon was in front of the 
main enemy position — an escarpment about 
a mile south of Gebel Medwa. The 15th Sikhs, 
temporarily commanded by Major Evans, were 
sent forward to attack the enemy's right flank, 
the Bucks Hussars and the 2 /8th Middlesex 
delivering a containing attack on his front. 
Meantime the Notts R.H.A. silenced the 
enemy's artillery (obtaining a direct hit on the 
largest of the enemy's pieces), aided by the 
C-in. guns of the Clematis, which opened "an 
accurate and useful fire " at a range of about 
six miles. The enemy fought with resolution, 
and three companies of the 1st New Zealand 
Rifle Brigade were sent to help the Sikhs. 
After nearly three hours' struggle the Sikhs and 
New Zealandors cleared the crest of the escarp- 
ment, driving the white-robed Arabs into a 
long rocky nullah, studded with caves and 
small gullies into which many of the enemy 
retreated. The nullah was cleared bend by 



bend and the edge of the tablo-land, beyond 
which lay the enemy's camp, was reached. 
Here the mounted column, which had met 
with determined opposition from the Sonussi 
horsemen, could be seen two miles away. 
Working their way towards Col. Gordon, the 
mounted troops joinod in the assault on the 
enemy's main position in the Wadi Majid, 
which was carried, about 4 p.m., at the point 
of the bayonet. By that time, however, the 
bulk of the enemy had made good their retreat 
along the sea-shore and the approach of dark- 
ness prevented pursuit. So hurried had been 
Gaafer Pasha's flight that he left behind his 
office and personal effects 

The British casualties were light — 14 rank and 
file killed and 3 officers and 47 other ranks 
wounded. Over 370 enemy dead were counted 
and 82 prisoners were taken. Much live stock, 
30,000 rounds of small-arm ammunition and 
three boxes of gun ammunition were also 
captured. The honours of the day fell to Col. 
Gordon and the Sikhs and New Zealanders 
(the latter under command of Major Austin). 
It was the first time these New Zealanders 
(among whom was a Maori contingent) had 
been in action, but they fought with the 
steadiness of seasoned troops. Col. Gordon's 
column bivouacked at Gebel Medwa. 

The troops (wrote an officer who took part in the fight ) 
slept for a few hours, during which time a volunteer 
party went back to rescue certain wounded reported to 
be in the long nullah. They feared for the lives of any 
men left behind. Their fears proved only too well 
founded. No wounded were found, but some cf the 
dead had been grievously maltreated. The men probed 
every cave and crevice in the vicinity, and not a lurker 
there escaped the terrible revenge they took. The light 

of the burning fodder shone on evidence that we do not 
box with kid gloves when the punching is below the 

At daybreak to-day (Boxing Day) the column moved 
back into camp, tired out, it is true, with its long march 
and running fight across the sand, and then through 
boulder-strewn ravines, but high in spirits.* 

One result of the Christmas Day fight was 
the withdrawal of the Senussi main body to 
Halazinf, 25 miles south-west of Matruh. The 
enemy had received a severe handling, but was 
far from beaten, and the last week of 1915 and 
the first half of January, 1916, had to be 
employed in clearing out parties of the enemy 
who were threatening the line of communica- 
tions between railhead and Matruh. These 
operations were interrupted by torrential rains 
— perhaps the last thing most members of the 
Kxpeditionary Force expected — which lasted 
a week and turned the land into alternate 
stretches of sand and mud. This work of 
clearing the rear of enemies was performed by 

* Morning Post, January 19. 1916. 

f This place was in the official dispatches at first- 
incorrectly spelt Hazalin. 





a column under Lord Lucan, helped by the 
Naval Armoured Car Division. Meantime, the 
enemy at Halazin received reinforcements. 
Careful watch was kept over that place by the 
Flying Corps. The camp comprised at least 
100 European tents and 250 Bedouin tents, 
including that of Sidi Ahmed, it being recog- 
nized by Capt. Royle, the observer. The 
strength of the enemy was estimated at 0,000, 
and once more Gen. Wallace awaited the 
arrival of reinforcements before attacking. 

At that time the first of the South African 
troops raised by the Union for service overseas 
(the campaign in German South- West Africa 
had been regarded as a domestic affair) had 
reached England and the 2nd Regiment (under 
Lieut. -Col. W. E. C. Tanner) of the 1st South 
African Infantry Brigade was sent to rein- 
force Gen. Wallace. It disembarked at Matruh 
on January 20 and 21, and at once was given 
a share of the fighting. On January 22 Gen. 
Wallace moved from Matruh and, marching 
16 miles, encamped that night at Bir Shola. 
There he formed his troops into two columns 
and, at 6 a.m. on January 23, went forward to 
engage the enemy. As in the action on Christmas 
Day, Col. Gordon commanded the infantry, 
which formed the Bight Column, and had with 
it one squadron of Yeomanry (the Duke of 
Lancaster's Own), and Brigadier-Gen. Biscoe 
the mounted men. The action that ensued, the 
hardest fought of the whole campaign, demon- 
strated, among other things, that the Senussi 
army had capable and daring leaders. Among 
them were German officers. Col. Gordon 
advanced direct on the enemy's camp, Gen. 
Biscoe's men being echeloned to the left front 
of the Right Column, moving parallel to and in 
close touch with it. Col. Gordon had with him 
his own regiment, the 15th Sikhs, the 2nd South 
African Regiment, the 1st Batt,, New Zealand 
R.B and the Notts Battery, R.H.A. In two 
hours and a half they had covered about seven 
miles ; a very trying experience, especially for 
the South Africans, most of whom had been 
originally cavalry. The advance was made in 
abnormal conditions. The whole country had 
been turned by the recent rains into a quagmire, 
which hampered the movements of the mounted 
troops and deprived the infantry of the support 
of the Naval Armoured Car Division. " Through- 
out the day," wrote Sir J. Maxwell, "this factor 
— of mud — played an important and unfortu- 
nate part." Though it hampered, the mud did 
not prevent the advance of the troops. At 

8.30 a.m. the Left Column reported the enemy 
in sight, and shortly afterwards Biscoe's 
advanced squadron of Australian Light Horse 
became engaged. Gen. Biscoe sent the Bucks 
Hussars and the H.A.C. to support the Aus- 
tralians and, at the same time, Col. Gordon's 
column pushed on in attack formation, the 
indomitable Sikhs leading. After an engage- 
ment lasting eight hours the enemy were de- 
feated and fled. The course of the fight is 
succinctly told in Gen. Maxwell's dispatch as 
follows : 

Relieved by the advance of the Infantry, the mounted 
troops pressed on, endeavouring to work round the 

Boarding a steamer at Solium. 

enemy's right, and at the same time covering the left 
flank of Col. Gordon's attack. The latter, spread 
over a front of nearly a mile and a half, led across 
ground absolutely destitute of cover, while mirage in 
the early stages made it impossible for a considerable 
time to locate the enemy's positions. During this 
advance the Infantry suffered somewhat severely from 
artillery and machine-guns, the enemy's fire being both 
rapid and accurate. Nevertheless, the enemy was 
gradually pressed back, but his retirement of nearly 
three miles on to his main positions was conducted with 
great skill, denying all our efforts to come to close 

By 2.45 p.m. the Sikhs and South Africans, with part 
of the New Zealand Battalion, on the left of the Sikhs, 
had reached the enemy's main line. But in the mean- 
time the flanks had not made equal progress, and bodies 

* f •■ *j»» 

> , 



1 1 

* ,' ! ■ 4 































of the enemy were working round both north and south, 
the line gradually forming the arc of a semi-circle. 

Soon after 1 p.m., so great was the activity of one 
of these detachments on our right, or northern flank, 
that the reserve Battalion (l/6th Royal Scots) had to 
be put in to restore the situation, but by 2.30 p.m. all 
danger from that quarter was past. On the extreme 
left, however, by 3.30 p.m. the Cavalry of the Left 
Column had been forced to give some ground, and with 
the H.A.C. guns were occupying a position nearly 
1,000 yards in rear of the Field Ambulance. 

Col. Gordon was called upon to detach two com- 
panies of New Zealanders to assist the Cavalry, who 
were being pressed. With this reinforcement the threat 
against our left rear was finally repulsed and the enemy 
driven off. 

In the meantime the main attack by Col. Gordon's 
Column had progressed satisfactorily. By 3 p.m. the 
enemy had been driven from his positions, and shortly 
afterwards his camp was occupied and burnt, the work 
of destruction being completed by 4.30 p.m. 

This account may be supplemented by 
extracts from a letter written immediately after 
the engagement by an officer who fought at 
Halazin, and printed in the Morning Post : 

While advancing on the enemy's position some 
hundred Springboks [South Africans] were sent back as 
unfit to march any further, but when the first gun 
boomed they halted undecided. Then the wind wafted 
down their battalion's weird war cry on its wings. 
Catching up the echo, they " about-turned " with a 
roar, and, boots carried in their hands, they struggled 
back to the opening fray, and saw it through to a finish — 
a likely looking lot these. 

The enemy contested the day with the utmost deter- 
mination. For four hours there was a struggle for 
supremacy in rifle fire which rivalled in rattle the old 
Gallipoli days. These native troops carried as many 
machine-guns as we did, and under German (two of them 
naval men) and Turkish officers, worked them with 
valour and precision. Their artillery threw poor- 
quality shrapnel with more accuracy than hitherto. 

A profitable stratagem was brought off by the cavalry 
screen. When we were more than holding our own a 
portion of the cavalry on the left retired under orders 
at a hand gallop. Encouraged by this, the Arabs who 
had opposed this portion of the line pressed forward in 
masses, to be blown to pieces by three of our guns just 
then placed in a new position. Concentrated rifle fire 
blotted out several of the Senussi's machine-gun crews, 
including a German captain. 

Our troops passed through the hostile camp, and 
found every evidence of European supervision. Oppor- 
tunity had been taken by the enemy during their 
determined resistance to remove much booty, but a 
good deal remained to be destroyed by the victors. 
Half a mile of Bedouin encampments went up in smoke. 

Pursuit of the enemy was impossible ; the 
cavalry horses were spent and the troops 
bivouacked two miles east of Halazin, at a 
spot where the Field Ambulance had stuck in 
the mud. The supply train had not been able 
to reach that place, and the night, intensely 
cold and wet, was passed — few slept — with 
neither supplies nor blankets. The enemy 
showed no inclination to renew the combat and 
on January 24, Gen. Wallace marched his 
troops back to Bir Shola. It was a trying march 
in deep mud, all vehicles having to be drawn 

by hand and the severely wounded" carried on 
stretchers by the tired and thirsty infantry, 
until three miles from Bir Shola the supply train 
was met. The next day, in better weather, the 
troops reached Matruh once more. The British 
casualties at Halazin were comparatively 
heavy, 31 killed and 291 wounded. The Sikhs 
alone had 136 casualties. The Senussites had 
suffered severely, a conservative estimate put- 
ting their loss at not fewer than 200 killed and 
500 wounded. For the success attained, as in 
the action on December 25, special praise was 
due to the leading of Col. Gordon, who com- 
manded the main attack, while Gen. Maxwell 
drew particular attention to " the gallantry of 
the Sikhs, the South Africans and the New 
Zealanders, who fought with invincible dash 
and resolution throughout the day." 

At Halazin the Senussites and their Turco- 
German allies had fought well, but unsuccess- 
fully, and their defeat, following the defeat on 
Christmas Day, disillusioned the Egyptian 
Bedouins who had nocked to the standard of 
Sidi Ahmed. Visions of raiding the rich lands 
of the Delta faded ; they found themselves 
instead ill-used by the Cyrenaican Arabs and 
in danger, too, of starvation. From this time 
many of the Walid Ali surrendered to the 
British ; the peril to Egypt appeared to be past. 
The immobility of Gen. Wallace's force had 
prevented him, however, from following up his 
victories, and thus the enemy was encouraged 
to continue the contest. The period of immo- 
bility was happily coming to an end ; the 
Expeditionary Force was at last — in February 
— supplied with sufficient camel transport. 
Its composition was again altered. The 15th 
Sikhs were ordered to India and the New 
Zealanders left for Europe. Their places were 
taken by more .battalions of the 1st South 
African Infantry Brigade, with whom came 
their commander, Brigadier-Gen. H. T. Lukin, 
C.M.G., D.S.O., an officer with a brilliant record. 
The composite Yeomanry Brigade also vanished, 
being replaced by the 2nd Mounted Brigade. 
Lord Lucan still had his three Territorial 
regiments (the l/6th Royal Scots and the 2/7th 
and 2/8th Middlesex Regt.), while, to emphasize 
the Imperial composition of the force, two 
sections of the Hong Kong and Singapore 
Mountain Battery had joined. The camel 
drivers, it may be added, were negroes from 
the Sudan. 

Gen. Wallace considered that the operations 
now contemplated — the reoccupation of Barrini 



and Solium — would, in view of his age, involve 
a physical strain beyond his powers, and he, 
therefore, resigned the command which he had 
held with unvarying success for three months. 
In his place Gen. Maxwell appointed Major-Gen. 
\V. E. Peyton, C.B., D.S.O., who took over the 
command on February 9, 1916, when the Expe- 
ditionary Force, reorganized in the manner 
stated, was completely mobile and would no 
longer have to return to Matruh after every 

Having completed his preparations, Gen. 
Peyton dispatched a force on February 20, 
with orders to establish itself at Barrini. 
Made up of Bucks Hussars, Dorset Yeomanry, 
the Notts Battery R.H.A., 1st and 3rd Batta- 
lions South African Brigade, Royal Scots, and 
Light .Armoured Car Batteries, this force was 
placed under the command of Brig. -Gen. 
Lukin, who located the enemy at Agagia, 
14 miles south-east of Barrini. Gaafer Pasha 
and Nuri Bey were both in camp, but Sidi 
Ahmed had left for Siwa, a forward movement 
of Senussi forces in the southern oases having 
been undertaken as a set-off to his reverses in 
the coast region. Gen. Lukin planned a night 
march for February 25, and an attack on the 
enemy camp at dawn. But Gaafer Pasha, as 
on previous occasions, did not passively 
await attack, and on the afternoon of the 
25th he opened fire with field and machine- 

guns on the British camp. The action on this 
day was unimportant, but it led Gen. Lukin 
to abandon his intended night march, and it 
was not till 9.30 a.m. on the 2Gth that he 
moved out with his whole force towards 
Agagia. Again there was the long march, but 
weather conditions were now normal, and the 
South Africans were in good form. About 
11 a.m. the 3rd (Transvaal) Battalion, under 
Lieut. -Col. E. F. Thackeray, attacked the 
enemy's centre, the bulk of the Yeomanry, 
with two armoured cars, being on the right- 
flank, and one squadron of Yeomanry and two 
cars on the left. Gen. Lukin's tactics, based 
on his South African experience, differed 
somewhat from those adopted in previous 
engagements. The infantry were to engage, 
break the resistance of the enemy, and the 
moment the foe showed signs of giving way 
the Yeomanry and armoured cars were to 
dash forward and complete their rout. Gaafer 
Pasha kept to his tactics of Halazin ; as the 
Transvaal Battalion advanced (with admirable 
steadiness), the Senussites and khaki-clad Turks, 
moving very rapidly, tried to outflank Lukin's 
left. This enveloping movement was soon 
checked, and the Transvaal men came on to 
within 500 yards of the enemy's position. 
Gen. Lukin decided to press the issue. He 
threw his reserve, the 1st (Cape Province) 
Battalion, under Lieut. -Col. F. S. Dawson, into 

In the foreground are Senussi prisoners ; in the background is General Peyton (seated). 



Troopers of the Dorset Yeomanry leading their horses back to the base. 

the fighting line, and brought back the squadron 

from his left flank to strengthen his right flank, 

warning Col. H. M. Souter, D.S.O., of the 

Dorset Yeomanry, to be ready. Pressed 

relentlessly by the South Africans, aftor a two 

hours' contest the enemy, who had fought 

with extreme boldness, was compelled to 

evacuate his position. In exact accordance 

with the plans, the fight was at once taken 

up by the cavalry, and the day ended in a 

memorable charge by the Dorset Yeomanry. 

About 1 p.m. [said Col. Souter in his official report] 
I received a message from the G.O.C. saying that he 
wished me to pursue and to cut off the enemy if possible. 
It was my intention to let the enemy get clear of the 
sandhills, where there might have been wire or trenches, 
and then to attack him in the open. I therefore pursued 
on a line parallel to, and about 1,000 yards west of, the 
line of retreat, attacking with dismounted fire wherever 
the horses wanted an easy. About 2 p.m. I saw for the 
first time the whole retreating force extend for about a 
mile with a depth of 300 to 400 yards. In front were the 
camels and baggage, escorted by irregulars, with their 
proper fighting force (Muhafizia) and maxims forming 
their rear and flank guard. I decided to attack mounted. 
About 3 p.m. I dismounted for the last time to give my 
horses a breather and to make a careful examination of 
the ground over which I was about to move. By this 
time the Dorset Regiment was complete, and as the 
squadron of the Bucks Yeomanry had gone on ahead 
and could not be found, I attacked with Dorsets alone. 
The attack was made in two lines, the horses galloping 
steadily, and well in hand. Three maxims were brought 
into action against us, but the men were splendidly led 
by tjieir squadron and troop leaders, and their behaviour 
was admirable.. About SO yards from the position I 
gave the order to charge, and with one yell the Dorsets 
hurled themselves upon the enemy, who immediately 
broke. In the middle of the enemy's lines my horse 
was killed under me, and, by a curious chance, his dying 
strides brought me to the ground within a few yards of 
the Senussi General, Gaafer Pasha. 

At this moment Col. Souter was alone, 
except for Lieut. Blaksley and Yeoman Brown, 
both of the Dorset Yeomanry, who had also 
had their horses shot under them. Around them 
were about fifty fit or lightly wounded enemy, 
and the situation was distinctly threatening 
until the arrival of the machine-gun section 
decided the issue. Gaafer Pasha and his staff 
were then escorted from the field. 

An officer who took part in the charge 

wrote : " Col. Souter led us splendidly in front 

of the whole regiment, and the regiment rode 

behind him in line, like a general's inspection — 

it was splendid." After describing the charge 

up to the time when Col. Souter's horse fell 

at the feet of Gaafer Pasha, this officer added : 

We rode on through the valley, and then rallied to the 
left, but as there were so many wounded, and the horses 
were done, we could not do much more. The men were 
grand all through. You never saw such a panic as there 
was on the faces of the Bedouins. Tamplin (2nd Lieu- 
tenant) did awfully well ; he rode like a fury, and 
accounted for a lot of the enemy, and then, when the 
charge was over, he collected a few men together, and 
went back twice to pick up wounded. 

In fact, these splendid fellows of the Dor- 
set Yeomanry without their officers' control 
carried on too far — one squadron had been 
deprived of all its officers, and it was this 
squadron which suffered most severely. The 
total of the British casualties was not officially 
announced — they exceeded 100. The enemy 
left over 200 killed and wounded on the 
ground, and besides Gaafer Pasha several 
other Turkish officers were among the 30 



prisoners. It was at first reported that Nuri 
Bey was killed, but the report was untrue. 
After a disorderly flight of eight to ten miles, 
Nuri rallied his forces. He did not attempt 
to renew the tight, but withdrew to the Senussi 
base camp of Bir Warr and Msead, in the 
direction of Solium, where he was in touch 
with reinforcements from Cyrenaica. The 
Turco-Arabs had not yet, in short, quite 
accepted defeat. Gen. Lukin after reoccupying 
Barrini (February 28) prepared for an advance 
on Sullum. 

Barrini now became the British advanced 
base. Capt. Burmester, R.N., and Com- 
mander Eyres -Monsell, R.N., M.P., a week 
ahead of schedule time, brought to Barrini 
by sea stores sufficient to permit Gen. Peyton 
to make the next forward movement. The 
fine work of the Navy was the more gratifying, 
as the Australian Divisional Train, which had 
worked splendidly, was needed for duty 
elsewhere. The attack on Bir Warr and Msead 
presented, however, special difficulties. The 
land route was more than usually destitute 
of wells, and necessitated also the passage of a 
narrow defile, while to land at Solium, and 
thence march inland, involved climbing, in 
the face of enemy fire, the 600 feet of cliffs 
which rise steeply above the bay. Neverthe- 
less, all difficulties were overcome, the British 
being heartened by the clever tapping of tele- 
phonic communication between the enemy 
camps, conversation which showed that Nuri 
Bey was hesitating whether to fight or to flee. 
(It is noteworthy as indicating the controlling 
power in the Senussi force that the enemy 
used not Arabic, but Turkish, in their telephone 

Gen. Peyton decided that the advance 
should be in two lines — one column moving 
along the tableland, the other, consisting of 
mounted troops, along the coast road. Gen. 
Lukin was with the column which took the 
high ground, having with him two battalions 
of infantry, the armoured cars, his camel 
corps company, and mountain guns. Gen. 
Peyton himself took command of the mounted 
column. By March 14 both columns were near- 
ing Solium. At 9 a.m. on that day the air scouts 
reported that the enemy was breaking up camp. 
Nuri Bey had in the end decided to fly. The air- 
men, however, also reported another enemy force 
some twenty miles to the west, in the open 
desert. Now came the chance of the armoured 
cars. A squadron of ten cars, under Major the 

Duke of Westminster (Cheshire Yeomanry) 
was sent in pursuit. They raced across the 
desert — striking the main road to Tobruk, and 
getting up a speed of thirty miles an hour, the 
cavalry and camel corps following. As the 
camp was reached, the cars were received with 
a lively fire, but, charging in line over boulders, 
scrub, and sand, the cars dashed into the 
camp, which was soon in their possession. 
Three field guns, nine machine guns, cases of 
dynamite, travelling workshops, and a great 
quantity of small anus ammunition were 
seized. The enemy lost 50 killed and many 
wounded, while 40 men, including Turkish 
officers, were taken prisoners. Some machine 
guns the enemy destroyed with bombs 
and petrol to prevent them falling into the 
hands of the British. It was afterwards ascer- 
tained that Nuri Bey had also blown, up his 
main ammunition stores. 

On the same day as this action was fought, 
March 14, Gen. Peyton reoccupied Solium, 
which had been held by the enemy since on the 
previous November 23 the Egyptian garrison 
had been withdrawn by sea. In the coast 
region the enemy had now been cleared out of 
Egyptian territory. To follow them into 
Cyrenaica was not practicable. One thing, 
however, was attempted and accomplished, 
and that was the rescue of the British prisoners 
in the hands of the Senussi. 

It will be remembered that the auxiliary 
cruiser Tara had been torpedoed by U 35, 
near Solium, on November 5, 1915, the Tara 
being one of several victims of German sub- 
marines at that period. They included the 
Helensmuir, whose crew were rescued by an 
armed Italian yacht and taken to Tobruk, 
where they were most hospitably treated.* 
Not all the crews of the torpedoed vessels 
were so fortunate. When the Tara was sunk 
twelve of the crew were killed. The survivors, 
92 in number, mostly Welsh, were towed by 
U 35 into Port Sulieman (Bardia), then in 
Senussi possession, or, as the commander of 
the U boat called it, " a German port." This 
officer offered to take Capt. Gwatkin-Williams, 
R.N., the captain of the Tara, to Austria, 
but he preferred to share the trials of his men, 
and of Lieut. Tanner, R.N.R. Lieut. Tanner 

* An account of Tobruk, written by the only passenger 
on board the Helensmuir, is printed in Chambers's 
Journal for September, 1916. It gives an interesting 
picture of the conditions in which the Italians in Cyre- 
naica lived. 



The Turkish General who commanded the Senussi, at the Headquarters of the Western Frontier Force. 

was the original master of the vessel, which, 
before the war was well known to travellers 
to and from Ireland, being a L. & N.W. Rail- 
way passenger boat — then called Hibernia — ■ 
plying between Dublin and Holyhead. At 
Port Sulieman the captors were surrounded 
by a fierce -looking Senussi guard, and in C'apt 

Gwatkin-Williams's opinion only the presence 
of Nuri Bey, " an ardent antiquarian," and 
Gaafer Pasha saved them from being murdered. 
The Turkish officers were uniformly kind 
(several of them had themselves been prisoners 
of war), as were, later on, several Arab officers ; 
but an Egyptian captain named Achmed. 



Who surrendered, arriving at the Headquarters of the Western Frontier Force. 

who was given charge of the camp, behaved 
brutally. This man, it was ascertained, was a 
dismissed employee of the Egyptian coast- 
guard, and subsequently he fell into the hands 
of the Italians. On November 15 the Tara sur- 
vivors were joined by Lieut. T. S. Apcar, Indian 
Lancers, with two ships' officers and, a Portu- 
guese cook, of the horse transport Moorina, 
one of the boats sunk by German submarines. 
Lieut. Apcar had been doubly unfortunate, 
having been compelled, with his boat's crew, 
to land in territory held by the enemy, while 
the other boats of the Moorina made Egyptian 

Lack of sufficient food anil clothing, long 
forced marches, actual ill-treatment by the 
Egyptian Achmed, bad and verminous quarters, 
such was the lot of the British captives. The 
story of their sufferings may be read in the 
extracts from Capt. Gw T atkin-Williams's diary, 
edited by his wife.* The men, four of whom 
died from the effect of their privations, were 
taken to a place called Bir el Hakim Abbyat 
(the Wells of the White Doctor), a spot over 
90 mite duo east of Solium, reached on 

* In tlic Hands of the Senonsm (Pearsons, 1916). 

November 26. There they were kindly 
treated by their guards. Capt. Gwatkin- 
Williams made an attempt to escape in Feb- 
ruary, and had got half-way to Solium when he 
was recaptured. Of the Senussi main forces the 
captives saw nothing, though Capt. Gwatkin- 
Williams believes he saw Sidi Ahmed himself. 
While still at Port Sulieman 

we were visited by a man we were told was the uncle 
of the Grand Senussi. (I have since come to the conclusion 
that this was the Grand Senussi himself). He is a 
powerful man with a greyish beard, and reminded one 
forcibly of the picture of one of the Elders in the story of 
Susannah. He carries his whip and gun with him 
everywhere, and amused himself by firing shots at 
various objects from the tent door. . . . The Turks 
treated him with great respect to his face and there was 
much kissing of hands : but as soon as he had retired 
they spat violently, and said he was a savage. 

A. Turkish surgeon, Dr. Bechie Fuad, "a 
kindly and hospitable soul," told many 
stories of the time when, as physician, he had 
attended the Senussi sheikh. 

Smoking and drinking are sternly forbidden, but much 
indulged in, by the Senussi sect. When the crime is 
brought home retribution is swift. The punishment for 
drinking is 1,000 lashes, and for smoking the loss of a 
hand. The doctor himself had had to amputate hands 
for this on four occasions. Had he refused his own hand 
would have been forfeited. 

At the end of January the captives were 



informed that a two-months' armistice had 
been arranged between the Senussi and th'3 
British at a conference at Solium, a pure 
invention which had disastrous consequences 
for the guard of the prisoners' camp, as various 
circumstances led the captives to believe the 
report to be true. When on March 14 Gen. 
Peyton entered Solium, Arab prisoners gave 
information as to the whereabouts of the 
captives, and the Light Armoured-Car Battery, 
under the Duke of Westminster, offered to 
try to rescue Capt. Gwatkin-Williams and his 
comrades. To venture thus into absolutely 
unknown country, against an enemy of un- 
known strength, was, in the measured words 
of Gen. Maxwell, " a feat which demanded great 
resolution." The expedition left Solium at 
3 a.m. on St. Patrick's Day (March 17). It con- 
sisted of nine armoured cars, 26 other cars, and 
10 motor ambulances. Capt. Royle, of the 
Egyptian Coastguard Service, acted as leader, 
and with him were two Arab guides — one of 
whom had not been to Bir Hakim for 30 
years. After a time the party began to doubt 
if they would succeed. The natives had said 
Bir Hakim was only 75 miles away, and 
when they had gone 95 miles and the desert was 
still bare the Arab guides were arguing as to 
whether they were on the right track. 

The man who had not seen Bir Hakim since his boy- 
hood thought they were wrong ; the other would nol 
say much, and though in the circumstances he proved a 
zealous guide, he thought the pace of the cars greater 
than it really was. The desert was now very stonj , 
but the going was fairly hard. One hundred miles 
went by, then 105. That was believed to be the limit 
of the distance, but still there was not the faintest sign 
of the prisoners' camp. Between 110 and 115 miles 
the fear of failure kept every one silent. A mile fartlu r 
on the Arabs became animated, and through the mirage 
a small height could be seen. 

After a halt, at 2 o'clock, the Duke sent forward the 
armoured cars to the attack. They raced up to within 
200 yards of the mound, the first car that of Lieutenant 
William Griggs, the jockey, who regards this as the 
biggest of the " classic " races in which he has taken 


The Senussi Commander being assisted on board a picket boat which took him to the warship 

in the harbour for conveyance to Alexandria. Smaller picture: Gaafer Pasha 

on his way to the picket boat. 




Who was in command of the Armed Motor 

Cars which rescued the crew of the 

"Tara," March 17, 1916. 

part. The prisoners were standing silhouetted against 
the skyline absolutely motionless and as silent as statues, 
dumb with amazement at the appearance of the rescuers. 
At last one man threw off a sack covering him and 
faintly cheered. The crowd staggered forward with the 
rolling gait of starved men and swarmed round the cars. 
They could not be persuaded to leave the cars. 

Meanwhile the remainder of the column, seeing the 
prisoners leave the mound, started a tremendous race 
to the spot. They ran abreast as fast as the engines 
would propel them, and the air was filled with the cheers 
of the crews and the noise of the exhausts.* 

When the captives saw the first car coming 

(it was the one driven by Lieutenant Griggs, 

the jockey) they believed that it carried an 

envoy to arrange peace on the conclusion of 

the two months' (fictitious) armistice, and when 

the Duke of Westminster questioned him as to 

the position of the guard Captain Gwatkin- 

Williams had no idea that there was still war, 

otherwise he wotilrl have interceded for their 

lives. As it was when he heard the Maxims 

splutter he shouted " Save them, they have 

* From an account by Mr. W. T. Massey on informa- 
tion from officers who took part in the rescue. 

been kind to us," and, with the Duke, darted 

up the mound to stop the firing. It was too late. 

The garrison (I suppose nine soldiers) had been wiped 
out in a few seconds, and I could see only prostrate 
forms lying among the desert scrub. Unhappily with 
them perished many women and children, who had run 
out with the soldiers and could not be distinguished 
from them in the heat of action. Our guards had died 
like the brave Arabs they were, with arms in their hands 
and " in death they were not divided." 

In half an hour the return journey was begun 
and in just over 24 hours, the cars having 
travelled 240 miles, were back at Solium. 
Taken straight to the hospital ship Raschid, 
the rescued men — one of whom was very ill 
and shortly afterwards died — sailed the next 
day for Alexandria. Two of the party who had 
left Bir Hakim some clays previously under 
escort, to obtain supplies, were handed over by 
Turkish officers to the Italians at Tobruk. 
Few men have had stranger experiences than 
the seamen who spent 19 weeks as prisoners 
of the Senussi. 

While the rescue of the captives at Bir Hakim 
virtually marked the end of the campaign in the 
north the situation in the oases was still un- 
favourable. As already stated the Senussi 
Sheikh had left Gaafer Pasha's army in January 
and gone to Siwa, and on February 1 1 and 1 2 
some 1,000 Senussites coming front Siwa 
occupied Baharia oasis, distant only 100 miles 
from the rich and thickly populated districts of 
Fayum and Minia. Further reinforcements 
followed and by February 27 Senussi troops 
had seized the more southerly oases of Farafra 
and Dakliia. Tims while being beaten back in 
the north Sidi Ahmed sought to retrieve his 
fortunes by an advance in the south. The like- 
lihood of this movement had been foreseen and 
Major-Gen. J. Adye, C.B., was directed to 
organize a force for the protection of the 
southern provinces of Egypt. This force 
guarded the Kile from the Fayum in the north 
to Esna in the south. Meanwhile as a pre- 
cautionary measure the civil officials were 
withdrawn from Kharga (or the Great) Oasis. 

The strategical importance of these oases is (wrote 
Gen. Maxwell) very obvious, but in view of the 
uncertainty as to what troops would be under my 
command at any moment, I considered that any enter- 
prise distant from the Nile Valley would be out of place 
and I restricted Gen. Adye to purely defensive measures, 
with, however, instructions to prepare a small mobile 
column with which he could strike at the enemy should 
he approach the cultivation. 

Gen. Adye, holding what lawyers call " a 
watching brief," was largely dependent on the 
work of the Royal Flying Corps. From the 
first the more northern oases, Moghara and 



el Gara, had been kept under observation 
by aeroplane, and Capt. (then Lieut.) Van 
Rynveld, and Mr. Jennings Bramley, of the 
Sudan Civil Service, to reduce the distance of 
nights as much as possible, had established 
advanced depots in the desert. This system was 
first tried by Captain Van Rynveld in a great 
flight over Gara (Qara) oasis, and by February 
so regular had the routine become that the 
airmen were able to announce the occupation of 
Baharia the very clay the enemy reached that 
oasis. Following this up, the airmen made 
continual flights to Dakhla, inflicting consider- 
able damage with bombs and machine-guns. 

It was at this time, March 19, 1916, that 
Gen. Sir John Maxwell handed over the supreme 
command in Egypt to Gen. Sir Archibald 
Murray, whose duty, as far as concerned the 
Western Frontier, was to guard against enemy 
raids in the Nile Valley, the stirring up of tribes 
still inclined to be well disposed towards the 
Senussi, and the creation of unrest in the Nile 
Delta among nervous or disaffected elements 
of the population. Sir Archibald Murray, 
acceding to a request from Sir Reginald Wingate, 
undertook, by means of an armed river patrol, 

to defend the reach of the Nile from Aswan to 
Wadi Haifa, so that the western front extended 
over 800 miles. The moral of the enemy had 
been severely shaken by the campaign in the 
north, but it was estimated that he had still 
3,000 troops in the western desert. The 
measures taken by the British succeeded in 
obviating all the dangers feared ; the Senussi 
forces instead of emerging from the oases and 
invading the Nile valley, were gradually pushed 
back.* They had entered Kharga oasis on the 
withdrawal of the Egyptian officials, but on 
April 1-5 aerial reconnaissance showed the oasis 
to be clear of the enemy, and on the 18th a 
British force of all ranks, 1,000 strong, was con- 
centrated there. This was followed, on April 
27, by the occupation by a British force of the 
more northern oasis of Moghara, and, a month 
later, of Baharia oasis, a line of blockhouses 
being built across waterless desert subject to 
frequent and severe sand storms. At Baharia, 
and. at the other oases, the Senussi had at first 
set up an orderly form of government, but as 

* An enemy party of four, including one Turkish 
officer, were captured GO miles from the Nile, at Minia. 
This was the Senussi's " farthest east." 

Left to right— back row: Mr. C. W. Birkby, Wireless Operator; Mr. G. W. Manning, Clerk; 

Mr. Richardson, Engineer. 
Front row: Mr. Colstead, First Mate; Lieutenant E. B. Tanner, R.N.R. 
Gwatkin-Williams, R.N. ; Dr. Tanner. 

Captain Rupert S. 

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their cause grew hopeless they had treated the 
natives with great barbarity, and the re- 
establishment of British authority was wel- 
comed by the inhabitants. The military 
occupation of the more distant oases was not 
undertaken, but patrols by the Imperial Camel 
Corps from Kharga kept Dakhla and Farafra 
oases under control. Motor-car and camel 
patrols were also carried out in the north from 
Solium and Barrini, and in this way communica- 
tion between the enemy and the Nile Valley 
and Delta was rendered almost impossible. In 
short a cordon was established which confined 
the Senussi in the south to the Libyan Desert, 
though in the north a small body of the enemy 
under Nuri Bey was still near Solium. Raids 
and reconnaissances from Solium in April alone 
resulted in the discovery in concealed depots of 
287,000 rounds of ammunition, two German 
wireless " sets," and a number of rifles. These 
were either destroyed or brought in. Only on 
one occasion did a Senussi guard offer opposi- 
tion. In May the command on the Western 
Frontier was taken over by Lieut.-Gen. Sir 
Bryan Mahon. but shortly after his arrival in 
Egypt Sir Bryan had to be invalided home 
owing to severe sunstroke, and Major-Gen. 
A. G. Dallas, C.B., succeeded to the command. 

In May the Italians struck a blow both 
against the Senussi source of supplies and tho 
enemy submarine bases in the Mediterranean. 
They occupied Mersa Moraisa and Bardai, the 
two ports between Tobruk and Solium which 
had been in Senussi occupation. On May 4 a 
naval force from Tobruk landed two battalions 
at Moraisa, and marching thence overland, 
the Italian troops a few days later occupied 
Bardai. Not only were these places, long the 
nests of U boats, taken without opposition, but 
with the active cooperation of Said Hillal, a 
brother of the Senussi chief. Sidi Ahmed was 
now in a somewhat tractable mood, and negotia- 
tions opened between him and Gen. Ameglio 
led to an exchange of prisoners, whereby some 
700 Italian soldiers regained their liberty, 
though a larger number had died in captivity. 
Several influential chieftains also rallied to the 
Italian side, but in view of the European 
situation no military expedition was undertaken 
in the interior of Cyrenaica. 

A complete settlement of the Senussi ques- 
tion was, indeed, no longer a matter of urgency. 
As chief of a federation of desert tribes Sidi 
Ahmed, in his Libyan fastnesses, was still a 
power but there was no occasion for either 


Italy or Great Britain to undertake a new 
campaign full of inherent difficulties. By 
his failure as a temporal leader Sidi Ahmed 
had lost much of the influence which he had 
possessed as a spiritual head. Sidi Ahmed, too, 
must have regretted that he had been led by 
his Turk and German advisers to break with 
Egypt, for in future there was to be no toler- 
ance by the British of his warfare with Italy. 
An anomalous situation was ended by the 
conclusion in July, 1916, of an Anglo-Italian 
agreement for common action against the 
Senussi. This agreement, in the words of 
the Giomale d'ltalia, deprived the Senussi 
sect of all hope of temporal aggrandizement, 
while restoring to them their purely religious 
character. The Italian Government had already 
publicly announced the entire freedom of 
religious belief among its Moslem subjects. 

Within a week of the conclusion of the Anglo- 
Italian agreement its effects were seen in Cyre- 
naica. By arrangement between the Italian com- 
mandant of Bardai and the British commander 
at Solium a joint armoured car patrol was ar- 
ranged, and in the first days of August a raid 
was made on a party of the enemy who were 
harassing the peaceably inclined natives. 
The raid was entirely successful. Itself a 



minor operation, it demonstrated to Sidi 
Ahmed and Nuri Bey that the time had passed 
when the British authorities kept to a policy 
of non-interference so long as the Senussi 
confined their operations to Cyrenaica. From 
this date onward, mutual, constant and 
systematic action by Italy and Great Britain 
replaced two hitherto independent policies. 

The Turkish and German efforts to stir up 
trouble in the Sudan had been unceasing, and 
just as the failure of their efforts in Western 
Egypt became apparent their intrigues suc- 
ceeded in getting AH Dinar, the Sultan of Dar- 
fur, to defy the Sudan Government. Ali Dinar 
had been a prisoner of the Khalifa ; he was 
released by Lord Kitchener, had gone back to 
Darfur, reconquered the tlirone of his ancestors, 
and was acknowledged by the Sudanese 
Government as Sultan, on the payment of an 
annual tribute of £500. Though far from being 
a model monarch, he maintained, on the whole, 
correct relations with the British, who had the 
control of his foreign affairs. The Sultan 
had been kept in order mainly through the 
influence of Slatin Pasha, who had himself, 
before his imprisonment by the Mahdi, been 
governor of Darfur. Slatin Pasha, who, as 
Lord Cromer publicly testified, " during a 
great many years gave most loyal and efficient 
service to the British Government," being an 
Austrian, was obliged to quit the Sudan 
administration when the great war began, and 

in his absence Ali Dinar assumed a more inde- 
pendent attitude. Darfur was, moreover, 
as has been already stated, subject to Senussi 
influence, and that in 1915 meant German 
influence. In that year Ali Dinar became 
more than usually restive. He refused to 
pay his tribute, and in February, 1916, began 
to concentrate a force on the frontier of Kor- 
dofan, the Sudan province adjoining Darfur. 
He had, too, a taste for abusive letter writing, 
and one lurid communication, to the Governor 
of Kordofan and the Inspector of the border. 
was addressed to " The Governor of Hell in 
Kordofan and the Inspector of Flames in 
Nahud." The situation created by Ali Dinar's 
truculence was grave, and unless promptly and 
successfully handled disturbances throughout 
the Sudan wore to be expected. Wadai, the 
sultanate wrested by the French from Senussi 
control in 1909-10, adjoined Darfur on the 
west, and several of its tribes sympathized with 
Ali Dinar, who, it was definitely ascertained, 
was in communication with Senussi chiefs. It 
was plain, said Lord Crewe, speaking in the 
House of Lords on behalf of the Government, 
that Ali Dinar had been misled by German 
propaganda. " It was likely that if delay had 
occurred, some German emissaries, whose 
activities there had been occasion to recognize, 
might have found their way to Darfur." 
Fortunately in Sir Reginald Wingate the Sudan 
possessed a governor whose courage was equal 
to his knowledge. He did not hesitate to take 





A gun platform. Smaller picture: Mahmud El 
Dedingawi, the Sultan's Cavalry Commander. 

instant action, although the season was the 
worst in the year for military operations. As 
to the consideration of season it had also to 
be remembered that when movement — owing 
to the scarcity of water — was difficult for the 
British it was also difficult for the enemy. 

For the expedition against Darfur Sir 
Reginald Wingate relied on his own resources, 
except for the help of a detachment of the 
Royal Flying Corps under Major Groves. 
All the rank and file engaged belonged to 
the Egyptian Army. The officers were British. 
A mixed force of all arms under Lieut. -Col. 
P. V. Kelly, officer commanding Egyptian 
Cavalry, was assembled, and in March it 
entered Darfur after slight opposition. In 
April, Abaid, a place 90 miles west of El Fasher, 
Ali Dinar's capital, was occupied and became 
the base for further operations. On May 15 
Col. Kelly set forward for El Fasher. He was 
well served by the R.F.C., who, from their 
base at Abaicl, made extraordinary flights 
On one occasion Capt. Bannatyne was nine 
and a half hours in the air. The enemy gave 
battle on May 22, at Beringia, 12 miles north 
of the capital and fought with all the traditional 
bravery of the Sudanese " Arabs " — who, in 
reality, have but a slight admixture of Arab 
blood. Besides other troops the Darfurians 
had 2,600 riflemen, the pick of Ali Dinar's 
forces. They held a strongly entrenched 
position, which, however, " the Egyptian 
Camel Corps induced them to leave." The 

enemy then attacked the Egyptian troops 
" with the utmost rapidity and desperation. 
The attack was met with withering fire, but 
some few of the enemy penetrated to within 
10 yards of our lines. Our troops then counter- 
attacked, totally defeating the enemy," whose 
losses exceeded 50 per cent, of his force. The 
next day Col. Kelly entered El Fasher. Ali 
Dinar and a large body of horsemen fled. 
They were chased by aeroplanes, which 




freely bombed the fugitives. Lieut. Slessor 
threw a bomb which fell almost at the feet of 
the Sultan, and though himself wounded by 
a bullet in the thigh, returned safely to Abaid. 

" Lieut. Slessor's achievements," said Sir Reginald 
Wingate, in publicly thanking the Royal Flying Corps, 
" were as gallant as they were dramatic, and I congratu- 
late him on having administered the final and heavy 
blow to the Kaiser's latest ally, Sultan Ali Dinar, as he 
ignobly fled from his capital, where he had boasted he 
would be prepared to lay down his life in support of our 
enemies' cause." 

Thereafter Ali Dinar disappears from the 
scene. A military administration was set 
up at El Fasher, where a considerable quantity 
of military stores was found, including four 
field guns and 55,000 rounds of small arms 
ammunition. (Among other "booty" was a 
large steam-roller, upon which was fixed a 
chair of state. This vehicle had served Ali 
Dinar, in lieu of a motor-car, for touring the 
town.) Many chiefs surrendered, and in a 
short time Darfur was at peace. For those 
who, from Sir Evelyn Wood onward, had 
laboured for over 30 years in the reorganization 
of the Egyptian Army it was particularly 
gratifying that the " Gippy " should have 
stood up to and beaten his once most dreaded 
foe. The victory, too, was a triumph of 
organization. Sir Archibald Murray said truly 

that the issue of the campaign was " only 
rendered possible by strenuous and skilful 
preparations, which have overcome immense 
difficulties, and by first-class staff work." 

The Germans had counted much on provoking 
a rising in the Sudan. On May 8 Swiss papers 
published what purported to be a telegram 
from Constantinople saying that the Wolff 
Agency announced that the " Iman " of Darfur 
had proclaimed the Holy War against the 
English ; that he was marching north with 
his troops and 8,000 camels ; that he was 
driving back the English — who were in dis- 
orderly flight — and intended to join the Senussi. 
Later in the month, when Ali Dinar had been 
defeated, the fame statement was circulated 
all over the world by the German Wireless 
Agency. The Germans were loth to acknow- 
ledge the fiasco of Fasher. 

As in Western Egypt so in the Sudan, the 
approved German method of stirring up 
sedition among the Moslems under the rule of 
the Allies had been tried and had failed 
Equally futile was the second attempt (in 
, August, 1910) made by the Turks, under 
German inspiration, to invade Egypt by way 
of the Suez Canal. Britain's highway to 
India and her position in the Nile valley 
remained as secure as ever. 



The Anglo-Portuguese Alliance — Loyalty to the Alliance in 1914 — The Causes op Delay 
— History' of the Republic — Government Instability— The Factors of Internal Unrest — 
German Intrigues — The Madeira Concessions — Clericalism and Anti -Clericalism — The 
Monarchy — Parties Under the Republic — The Question of Intervention in the War — 
Dr. Arriaga's Policy as President — Political Struggles — Hesitations of British Diplo- 
macy' — Expeditions to Angola and Mozambique — Ministerial Differences — General 

DENT— The Seizure of German Ships — German Declaration of War. 

ON March 9, 1916, Dr. Rosen, the 
German Minister in Lisbon, called on 
the Portuguese Foreign Minister, 
Dr. Augusto Soares, to intimate that 
the Imperial Government had. declared war 
on Portugal. Next day, quietly, but with 
all the formalities of international courtesy, he 
left Lisbon. The Austrian Minister, Baron 
von Kuhn, on March 15, demanded his pass- 
ports, and left the country. 

At a special session of the Congress, held 
on the 10th, the Prime Minister, Dr. Affonso 
Costa, had announced the resignation of his 
Government, to make way for the formation of 
a special national War Ministry, formed by the 
union of the two chief parties in the Parliament, 
the Democrats and the Evolutionists. The 
16th saw the new Government formed, the 
Evolutionist leader, Dr. Antonio Jose d' Almeida 
becoming Prime Minister and Dr. Affonso 
Costa, the Democratic chief, taking the office 
of Minister of Finance. Dr. Augusto Soares 
remained at the Foreign Office. Dr. Brito 
Camacho, the Unionist leader, elected to 
remain outside the Government, though pro- 
mising his support for the national policy. 

There was a great demonstration in Lisbon 
on the 26th in support of the Government 
Vol. IX.— Part 113 321 

policy. These events passed quietly and 
occasioned nothing of the general excitement 
which had characterized the outbreak of 
European hostilities in 1914. Yet these days 
will be memorable in Portuguese history. 
They form the complement of those spon- 
taneous affirmations of loyalty to the Alliance 
and to the Allies made in full Congress on 
August 7, and again on November 23, 1914. 
The declarations then made voiced the un- 
doubted wish of a large section of the Portu- 
guese nation that Portugal should take her 
place and part with the Entente Powers, as 
the historic ally of Great Britain and the 
devoted friend of France. Those declarations 
were first made in the dark opening days of the 
war. Belgium was then slowly but doggedly 
falling back from her frontiers and her fortresses. 
They were repeated at the very time when 
Turkey was preparing to throw in her lot with 
the Central Empires. Portugal, indeed, first of 
all Europe declared clearly and unitedly for 
the Allies. 

Why ? First, without question, because 
under the old alliance between Portugal and 
England it was the natural course and policy 
to follow, although especially since the year 
1890 Germany had persistently worked to 




supplant British interests in Portugal. Like 
Belgium, Portugal wished to live free and 
independent, and recognized in the British 
Alliance the surest external guarantee for her 
national independence and the security of 
her colonies. Secondly, because, as Republi- 
cans, the Portuguese saw in this occasion an 
unequalled opportunity for the establishment 
of the Republican regime on a firmer basis. 
To Republicans Germany, with her form of 
government and policy, was naturally antagon- 
istic. Though the Central Empires only offi- 
cially declared war on March 9, 1916, the 
Republic from its first proclamation on October 
5, 1910, had been engaged in a ceaseless 
struggle for its very existence with a con- 
federacy of courts and currents among which 
Berlin, Vienna, and Munich had a prominent 

Why, it may be asked, did not Germany 
declare war before, in view of Portugal's 
prompt and reiterated declarations of solidarity 
with Great Britain and the Allies ? 

First, because Portugal held far too valuable 
a pledge in pawn in the seventy odd German 
ships which, curiously enough, the outbreak 
of hostilities found at anchor in Portuguese 
ports, or which subsequently sheltered there. 
Secondly, because the near neighbourhood of 
the German and Portuguese colonies in Africa 


made the neutrality, if not the friendship, of 
Portugal a consideration, the more that the 
failure of Germany's schemes for the rapid 
subjugation of Europe early compelled her to 
stand purely on the defensive in South-West 
and East Africa. And thirdly, because, with- 
out doubt, Germany yet hoped, by the pro- 
longation of a state of dubious and dangerous 
indecision, by actively fomenting party strife 
and internal unrest, and even by revolution, to 
render active Portuguese help of the Allies 
impossible, or to produce the adoption of such 
a policy of neutrality as, with that of Spain, 
would have converted all the littoral of the 
Peninsula, together with the ports of Portu- 
guese West and East Africa, Madeira, the 
Azores, Cape Verde, and the Portuguese 
colonies of Portuguese India, Timor, and 
China, into so many landing stages and refuges 
for the Central Empires and centres for pro- 
German propaganda. 

But this was not to be. " Portugal," in the 
words of the British Minister in Lisbon, Sir 
Lancelot Carnegie, ' ' showed herself in this 
crisis prepared to comply scrupulously with 
the very letter of her treaties, at whatever risk 
to herself." "Nor," he added, "will anyone 
be surprised at the fact." In view of he 
history of the two nations and the many and 
recent evidences of the friendship subsisting 



between them, it was, in truth, not to be 
wondered at. 

It is needless to retrace the history of the 
Anglo -Portuguese Alliance from 1373 to the 
twentieth century. The world had changed 
indeed since Englishmen and Portuguese first 
fought side by side, in the days of the first 
Portuguese dynasty, to win Lisbon, and later 
Silves from the Moors, and since, in 1381, the 
first defensive expedition of English troops 
entered the Tagus. Many had been the 
changes since English archers joined with the 
Portuguese patriots who defended the stockade 
at Aljubarrota. But these changes had not 
altered the real bases which underlay this 
oldest of international alliances. These sub- 
sisted still, as they had subsisted 500 years 
before, in Portugal's long Atlantic seaboard 

and ports and in her wide and vulnerable 
land frontiers. For Portugal prized her inde- 
pendence above all. Hence it was that she 
yet looked, as she had ever done, to England, 
her ally beyond the seas. 

The relations between the two countries 
during the closing years of King Carlos's reign 
had been close and cordial. In 1899 Admiral 
Sir Harry Rawson had paid a special visit to 
Lisbon. In 1903 King Edward VII. had been 
given a truly royal welcome by the people of 
Portugal on the occasion of his visit, and a 
similar reception was given by the British to 
King Carlos when soon afterwards he visited 
London. Then had followed the visits of 
Queen Alexandra, and later that of the Duke 
of Connaught and his daughters. These visits 
the Portuguese people had never forgotten. 
It may be recalled here that Mr. Lloyd George, 




Mr. Asquith and Mr. McKeima had all visited 
Lisbon within recent years. Only in 1909 the 
young King, Manoel, had visited and been 
welcomed in London. Thither he returned an 
exile in 1910. 

On the establishment of the Republic on 
October 5, 1910, the attitude of the Republican 
leaders had been from the first frankly friendly. 
Dr. Bernardino Machado, the Foreign Minister 
of the Provisional Government, had declared 
its wish that the British Alliance might be 
maintained intact, despite the change in 
regime, and the desire of the Government to 
do all in its power ; for the strengthening of the 
ties which united the two countries. From the 
first these advances had been cordially met 
by Sir Francis Villiers, the then British Minister 
in Lisbon, who well knew the actual con- 
ditions of things in the country during the 
closing years of the Monarchy. Sir Arthur 
Hardinge, who succeeded him in October, 
1911, after the first Monarchist incursion, had 
worked actively to foster Anglo-Portuguese 
relations and in support and promotion of the 
British Chamber of Commerce in Portugal. 

The change of regime, however, as was 
natural, resulted in the slackening of many of 
those ties which had hitherto united the two 
lands. There was much to explain this. The 
English are a conservative people : they 
respect tradition, as they respect belief. They 
were shocked, as was all Europe, by the 

assassination of King Carlos. They pitied, 
and rightly pitied, his son. They are a religious 
people. They heard of religion persecuted, 
and its ministers treated with scorn and bru- 
tality. They were indignant, and rightly 
indignant. They are a loyal and a magnani- 
mous people, and they heard of loyalty treated 
as a crime and punished by stern privation. 
They sympathized, and naturally sympathized, 
with the sufferers. Far from the amazing 
world of intrigue, of plot and counterplot, 
which made up for so long the under-history 
of this little land, and knowing little of the 
causes that determined that vast war of 
clericals and anti-clericals which involved all 
Continental Europe and much of Latin America, 
the British public for. years watched Portugal 
with interest and concern, and sometimes with 
outspoken indignation. Meanwhile the young 
Republic, beset without and within, was fight- 
ing its uphill battle against odds of which the 
British public knew little. 

To understand Portugal's war policy is not 
easy. It is impossible without some know- 
ledge of the history of the country during 
recent years. But before entering on this 
there are certain facts which require never to 
be forgotten. 

First of these is the condition of chronic 
governmental instability. A recognition of the 
enormous difficulties arising from this is essen- 

The last Royalist cavalry in Vinhaes on their way to surrender to the Republican authorities. 



The crowd listening to Republican leaders who are speaking at the Town Hall. 

tial to any judgment of the country, its policy, 
and its public men. Yet abroad this has often 
been forgotten. The condition was not new. 
It characterized the history of the entire 
country. Latterly, however, it had been ac- 
centuated. Thus from 1900 to 1910, during 
the last 10 years of the Monarchy, 10 govern- 
ments came and went. The Republic entered 
with the Revolution of October 5, 1910, and 
between 1910 and 1916 there had been already 
11 governments. Now, this perpetual change 
spells ruin for any regime or any country. 
It signifies weakness at home, and irresponsi- 
bility and uncertainty in the nation's policy 

This instability had its rise in the destruction 
of the old political balance maintained for 
many years by the two old organized political 
parties — the Progressistas and the Regenera- 
dors — which, while they monopolized all poli- 
tical power, constituted a sort of equipoise. 

Its immediate cause was traceable to the per- 
sistently obstructive action of dissentient 
groups which, powerless to govern, were yet 
able to make the Government of either of the 
new and but imperfectly organized parties im- 
possible. This policy of systematized obstruc- 
tion, inside and outside Parliament, was 
adopted originally by rival monarchic groups 
within the Monarchy — which it destroyed. It 
was continued under the Republic by these 
same groups, with a view either to the destruc- 
tion of the Republic or to the conquest of power. 
In this struggle these dissentients united with 
and worked largely through discontented 
Republican elements. Further, both before 
the war and after its outbreak, this policy was 
systematically employed to weaken the regime, 
and to frustrate all attempts to define and 
strengthen the national policy — and this on 
behalf of Austria and Germany and Spain, as 
against Great Britain and France. It must 




President of the Republic. 

not be thought that these remarks apply 
to the Monarchist party as a whole, as there 
was a considerable section which, especially 
after the war broke out, either showed a friendly 
attitude to the Allies, or at any rate remained 
passive. , 

Portugal in the beginning of the century 
was sliding quietly and, as it seemed, con- 
tentedly, down to bankruptcy and ruin, and 
her Monarchy with her. King Carlos, a clever, 
educated, easy-going monarch, appeared to be 
either supremely oblivious or supremely care- 
less as to what the future might hold for either 
his country or his House. The internal political 
situation was summed up in the see-saw of the 
two great traditional parties, the Regeneradors 
(Conservatives), led by Senhor Hintze-Ribeiro, 
and the Progressistas (Liberals), under Senhor 
Luciano de Castro. These two parties — the 
" Rotativos," as they came to be called — 
formed the counterpart of the old-world British 
Tories and Whigs. They had for the most 
part little connexion with the cities, depending 
for their strength upon " the country," local 
electioneering interests, the official representa- 
tive of the Minister of the Interior for the time 
being, the old gentrj^, the illiterate voter, and 
the Church. Separated by little except party 
barriers, they were content alternately to enjoy 
the sweets of office. And so in a peace broken 
only by the squabbles of the various would-be 
successors to the leadership of the parties, the 
country drifted down towards the abyss. 

Republicanism was still little more than the 
platonic aspiration of professors and medical 

men, far removed, it then seemed, from the 
sphere of actual politics, while among the pro- 
fessional party politicians of all schools the 
Monarchy and the English Alliance were politi- 
cal dogmas universally accepted. The only 
section inclined to look askance at England, 
despite Lord Salisbury's unforgotten " ulti- 
matum" to Germany, were the Republicans. 
They saw — and, as it then seemed, not without 
reason — in the continuance of the British 
Alliance the prospect of a limitless continuance 
of the thousand ills and abuses which threatened 
the national life. 

It was the now-forgotten question of the 
renewal of the Tobacco Monopoly which heralded 
the downfall of the old order. This question 
was intimately connected with the financial 
future of the country, but passed almost un- 
noticed in England. It ended, after occasion- 
ing the fall of three Governments and five 
Ministers of Finance, in the dramatic defeat of 
Senhor Luciano de Castro, the split-up of his 
historic party (the Progressist), and the 
beginning of that period of faction-fighting and 
political anarchy which led to the fall first of 
the parties and then of the Monarchy. 

It was in March, 1906, that Senhor Luciano 
de Castro was defeated, owing to the defection 
of his right-hand man, Senhor Jose Maria 
Alpoim, and left his place of leader of the 
Cortes for ever. A Regenerador Government, 
under Senhor Hintze-Ribeiro, naturally fol- 
lowed. This party was even less prepared than 
its rival to cope with the difficulties of the 
moment. The Government entered on March 
20, 1906. By May 18 it had fallen, its chief, 


.jSflPdfl HSi 

1 Sti^k ' 


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■""■ ^ 

i ^^r ^^^^1 


Prime Minister, 1915. 





The Progressist Leader. 


The Unionist Leader. 

Prime Minister, 1911. 

one of the finest orators and parliamentarians 
of his time, having left office — like his rival — 
never to return. The ruin of the great parties 
in Portugal had begun. The five years that 
followed saw the Progressist party reduced to 
impotence as the result of organized obstruc- 
tion, in which the Dissidents under Senhor 
Alpoim were the leading factor, while the 
Regeneradors fell into faction, and went down 
with the Monarchy, which their divisions did 
much to destroy. 

Even before this, during the Regenerador 
Government of 1904-1906, Germany and Ger- 
man official agents had made the attempt to 

secure political influence, alike in the Court and 
in the Regenerador party, led by Senhor 
Hintze-Ribeiro. Thus it was during his Gov- 
ernment, in large measure through Court 
influence, and trading upon the well-known 
philanthropic character of the then Queen, 
Dona Amelia, that the famous Madeira Sana- 
torium Concession was granted to a German 
group, of whom Prince Ernst Hohenlohe was 
the head. Prince Hohenlohe, it should be 
remembered, was at this time head of the 
German Colonial Department. By this con- 
cession it was proposed to construct in Madeira 
a palace hotel and sanatoria for the special 

From 1900 to 1915. 
Senhor Hintze-Ribeiro. 
Senhor Luciano de Castro. 
Senhor Hintze-Ribeiro. 
Senhor Joao Franco. 
Senhor do Amaral. 
Senhor Campos Henriques. 
Senhor Sebastioa Telles. 
Senhor Wenceslau de Lima. 
Senhor Beirao. 
Senhor Teixeira de Sousa. 
The Revolutionary Provisional Government proclaimed. 

President : Senhor Theophilo Braga. 
Senhor Joao Chagas. 
Senhor Augustos de Vasconcellos. 
Senhor Duarte Leite. 
Senhor Affonso Costa. 
Senhor Bernardino Machado. 
Senhor Victor Hugo de Azevedo C'outinko. 
General Pimenta de Castro. 
Senhor Joao Chagas. 
Senhor Jose" de Castro. 
Senhor Jose de Castro. 
Senhor Affonso Costa. 
Senhor Antonio Jose d' Almeida. 

Dr. Arriaga. 

Senhor Theophilo Braga. 
Senhor Bernardino Machado. 


June 25 


October 20 . 


March 19 


May 18 
February 4 . . 
December 25 


April 11 
May 13 
December 22 


June 26 
October 5 . . 


September 3 
November 12 


June 16 


January 9 . . 

February 8 . . 
December 12 


January 28 . . 
May 15 
May 24 
June 15 
November 29 


March 15 


August 24 . . 
May 29 
August 6 . . 



treatment of tuberculosis. The scheme was 
drafted on:a large scale The Queen's interest 
was secured by clauses making provision for 
a certain number of beds for the poor and the 
appointment of the Chief Court physician in con- 
nexion with the scheme Influential Portuguese 
elements in Madeira and Lisbon were interested 
in it, and so rapid was the progress made that 
in less than six months the Portuguese local 
agent could write to Herr Hoffmann, one of 
the promoters in Berlin, "Madeira is quite -in 
your hands," thanks to the " magic Sanatoria." 
Then came a hitch. A certain property 
adjoining the concession came into the market. 

Hoisting the Republican Standard. 

It was bought up by an Englishman, over the 
head of his German rivals. The German group 
fell back upon a somewhat ambiguously worded 
paragraph of the original deed of concession, 
and on their securing, through Prince Hohen- 
lohe, the support of the German Government, 
Portugal was surprised by a demand for the ex- 
propriation of the English owner, a reply being 
requested within a stipulated time-limit of so 
many hours. This " ultimatum " was at once 
sent on to England by the Portuguese Govern- 
ment of the day Germany as a result was 
given to understand, as later in the case of 
the French Congo, that, should she take her 
threatened action against the country, force 

would be met by force. The result of British 
intervention was, for the moment, decisive. 
Germany withdrew her time-limit and agreed 
to leave the matter to be settled by negotiation, 
and it was relegated to the lawyers until such 
time as, on the assassination of King Carlos and 
the accession of King Manoel, Senhor Wen- 
ceslau de Lima, the former Regenerador 
Foreign Minister, reassumed his post at the 
Foreign Office. 

The incident was, however, very far from 
being settled. What had originally been put 
forward as a combined commercial and philan- 
thropic scheme, and subsequently proved a 
grave political menace, had in 1908 become 
part of a comprehensive commercial policy. 
Senhor Wenceslau de Lima was no sooner in 
office again than there began to be outlined a 
series of concerted measures, ably planned and 
far-reaching in their effects, converting the 
original plan for the domination of Madeira 
into- a systematic scheme for insuring German 
economic preponderance alike in the country 
and the colonies. 

Four years before, the reliance of responsible 
statesmen of all parties on the British Alliance 
as the base of all Portuguese foreign policy was 
unquestioning and complete. That the reader 
may be enabled to understand how such a 
change of attitude in the governing classes could 
come about in so short a time it will be well 
rapidly to review the internal situation during 
these years, which witnessed the ruin of the old 
parties, the assassination of King Carlos and 
the Crown Prince, and the short and stormy 
reign of King Manoel. 

In 1906 the Progressist Government under 
Senhor Luciano de Castro, and the Regenerador 
under Senho • Hintze-Ribeiro, fell in rapid 
succession. The cause in both cases was the 
same — the separation from the two parties of 
dissident or dissentient groups, composed in 
each case of some of the most capable and 
influential men in their respective parties. The 
leader of the one group, which became known 
as the Dissidents, was Senhor Jose Maria 
Alpoim, of the other Senhor Joao Franco. The 
apple of discord in each case was the Ministry of 
the Interior, which carried with it, under the 
then conditions, the virtual reversion of the 
leadership of the party. These two chiefs 
were similarly placed as regard-) their political 
influence in their respective parties, and were 
both able and both ambitious, but here all 
resemblance between them ends. 

Firing a torpedo. Circle picture : A torpedo ready for the tube. 

. 329 



German Minister in Lisbon from 1912 to 1916. 

The old Progressist Prime Minister, Senhor 
Luciano de Castro, though defeated in 1906, was 
very far from having lost his power. He was a 
really great parliamentary and party leader of 
the old school — a Portuguese Walpole. In- 
valided and confined to his room by gout, he 
continued to hold the real powers of govern- 
ment in his hands, working through his lieu- 
tenants, and checkmating both the Opposition 
and the Dissident group who had left him. 
His genius prolonged and embittered the party 
duel, which dragged on through the last years 
of the life of King Carlos and the short reign of 
his son. 

The fall of Hintze-Ribeiro and the Regenera- 
dor party was far more rapid and complete than 
that of his rival. On his resignation on May ] 8. 
1906, after only 60 days of power, King Carlos 
took the hazardous step of calling Jo So Franco 
to succeed him. .Senhor Joao Franco had left 
Hintze-Ribeiro, his former chief, in 1901, and 
in 1903 formed the nucleus of a new party — the 
Regenerador-Liberal. Bitterly opposed, he had 
none the less drawn around him a group of able 
and honest men. though he possessed no political 
organization such as could compare with those 

of the two historic parties. Called unexpectedly 
to power, the new Minister entered upon an 
apparently impossible task, but faced the 
position at the outset with courage, honesty and 
address. His success threatened the very 
existence of the old parties. The. story of how 
— as a result of the able, but bitter and un- 
scrupulous campaign, carried on against him in 
ihe Press, the Parliament and the country, by 
the old parties, Dissidents and Republicans alike 
— after some months of useful work and an 
amazing struggle against his many enemies, he 
was forced from liberalism into repression, 
branded as the Dictator, and finally crushed by 
the simple but terrible expedient of the assassi- 
nation of the King, who had refused to abandon 
him, is one of the tragedies of constitutional 
history in Latin lands. When the time comes 
to do full justice to Joao Franco, it will be 
recognized that his brief government, despite 
its disastrous close, was the loyal attempt of 
an honest man to save his country, and the 
Monarchy with it, not by condoning and 
temporizing with abuses, but by ending them. 


Foreign Minister. 



Sir Lancelot Carnegie, British Minister in Lisbon, chatting with Admiral Yelverton. 

JojJo Franco fell, as did King Carlo?, only 
because the official Monarchist parties refused 
to be saved by the extirpation of those vices 
which threatened at once the ruin of the nation, 
the Monarchy and their own political power. 
Practically none of his legislative work was 

The death of King Carlos affected Anglo- 
Portuguese relations most adversely. He, 
despite his German blood, had always shown 
himself a real friend of England and the British 
Alliance. An intelligent and able man, how- 
ever greatly his life might appear to belie the 

fact, he understood and sympathized in his 
easy-going way with the free institutions and 
the liberal trend of opinion which form the 
distinctive heritage of Great Britain and France. 
Indeed, it would seem that his calling of Jcao 
Franco to power and his determined support of 
him were due in great part to a sincere wish to 
break with the corruptions of the former 
pseudo -constitutionalism by the introduction 
of a more honest administration " a inglesa." 

Now, side by side with this internal party 
struggle, a wider, deeper and far more potent 
international factor was introduced by the 



President Machado (1) 


Senhor Norton de Mattos (2), Minister of War; and Admiral Yelverton (3), 
in the Gardens of the Palace of Belem. 

growing bitterness of the war of clericals and 

King Carlos was no anti-clerical, but clerical 
he was not. It is notorious that the one great 
popular ovation of his public life was that called 
forth, in the words of the Seculo, of August 17, 
1914, "not by what King Carlos represented 
for the country, but by the hope which he 
constituted at that time of a change in processes 
with regard to Clericalism. King Carlos failed 
to follow such a course, and never again in his 
life was that demonstration repeated." 

The Queen, Dona Amelia, on the other hand, 
was a beata in the popular Portuguese accepta- 
tion of the word — an earnest, devout Catholic, 
we should say — but unquestionably wholly in 
the hands of the Church and the clergy. It was 
to her influence that the return of the Jesuits to 
Portugal under Hintze-Pvibeiro was attributed, 
as also the growing numbers and strength of 
the foreign religious orders in the country. 
When King Carlos was dead, and in his place 
sat the young prince Manoel, retiring, unasser- 
tive, kindly and, like his mother, deeply 
religious, the whole tide of Court influence 
became intensely clerical, in utter opposition 
to the prevalent anti-clerical feeling of the 
capital and to many among his Ministers. 

Hence it was that, during those disastrous two 
years, it was the religious question, second only 
to that of party leadership, which dominated 
everything. Raised in 1909, by a question as 
to the right of the bishops to dismiss and to 
appoint teachers in the State schools without 
the intervention of the Government, and again 
in 1910 by a Papal order for the suspension of 
a periodical (an order given without consulta- 
tion with the Government, in contravention of 
the law), the anti-clerical feeling was intensified 
by the active part taken by the clergy in the 
elections of August, 1910. In little more than 
two years, the young King found himself 
forced to flee the country. 

The King and the Court were clerical to a 
degree. The Press and the cities were no less 
thoroughly anti-clerical, as was evidenced by 
the great demonstration in favour of the Bill 
for the civil registration of births, marriages 
and deaths which was held shortly before the 
Revolution. The King's Ministers in the six 
Governments which came and went during the 
crowded thirty months of his reign had many 
of them no vestige of sympathy with the 
declaredly clerical tone of the King and the 
Court. They were for the most part far more 
interested in the personal question of who in 



their respective parties was to succeed to the 
leadership in place of Hintze-Ribeiro or of 
Luciano de Castro. Personal disputes for 
party precedence sum up well nigh the record 
of these six Governments. But from among 
them, short-lived, sterile and featureless as they 
were, there is one which stands apart, taking 
rank, among all the 20 administrations which 
have come and gone since 1900, as having 
done more towards changing the course of the 
national life and policy than any except the 
Republican Provisional Government, This 
Government, which lasted only some seven 
months, was that of Senhor Wenceslau de Lima. 
Short-lived as it was, it succeeded before it left 
power in carrying, through a well-nigh silent 
and complacent Chamber, three measures of 
capital importance, which served to give a fresh 
current to Portuguese colonial, commercial and 
foreign policy. And this policy may be said 
to have been " made in Germany." 

It was just after the Bosnian crisis in 1908, 
when, in Prince Billow's striking phrase, 

Germany had decided " to fling her sword into 
the scale," that Count Tattenbach came to 
Portugal. Previous^ he had been in Morocco, 
and was the Minister chosen to represent the 
Empire, and its new and definite war-prepara- 
tion policy, at the Conference of Algeciras. 
When he came to Lisbon the Count found the 
Madeira Sanatorium question still pending, 
and at once set to work to secure its settlement 
in such a manner as to ensure the maximum of 
advantage to the concessionary group and to 
his Government. Various proposals were 
broached, among others that of a privileged line 
of navigation from Lisbon to Madeira. These 
all gave place to the wider scheme of a pre- 
ferential Treaty of Commerce. 

Senhor Wenceslau de Lima had been Foreign 
Minister under Hintze-Ribeiro and was one of 
the leaders of the Regenerador party. He had 
large electioneering and commercial interests 
in Oporto and the North, particularly in the 
Oporto wine business. On the fall and subse- 
quent death of his chief, the leadership of the 

The head of the British Mission to Portugal on board the Portuguese Cruiser " Vasco Gama." 




party devolved first upon Senhor Julio de 
Vilhena, and later upon Senhor Teixeira de 
Sousa. Neither seems to have been persona 
grata at the Court. Senhor Wenceslau de Lima, 
as the King's published letters clearly show, 
was the one of all King Manoel's many 
Ministers whom he really trusted and for 
whom ho evidenced genuine affection. It 
was the King's wish, as he himself wrote, 
to prepare his friend's succession to the leader- 
ship of the Conservative party. In the King's 
first Government, that of Senhor Ferreira 
d'Amaral, Wenceslau de Lima appeared 
again as Foreign Minister. Under Hintze- 
Ribeiro, he had sought to inaugurate a series 
of treaties of commerce, with a view to the 
development of the national trade. With this 
end he approached England, but his advances 
met with no response. He now turned to 
Germany. In Count Tattenbach he met with 
a ready coadjutor. In May 1909 he became 
Prune Minister. Before his Government fell, 
in December of the same year, there had been 
hurried through Parliament his new commercial 
programme and these three measures — the Law 
of Sobre-Tax, the Madeira Sanatorium Settle- 
ment, and the Treaty of Commerce with 
Germany — were already law. By the law of 
Sobre-Tax the Government were empowered 
to apply a sliding tariff scale for facilitating 
commercial negotiation. The Madeira Sana- 
torium claims were settled by the payment to 
the German concessionaires of 1,200 contos of 
reis (some £240,000). By the Treaty of Com- 
merce preferential duties were conceded to 
Germany up to 33 per cent. Subsequently, in 
application, these differences in some cases 
attained as much as 2,000 per cent, as against 
British goods. 

These measures, involving fiscal and com- 
mercial changes of the utmost political impor- 
tance, were hurried almost without discussion 
through a dying Parliament, in the last days 
of the session. The Government fell, but its 
work remained. The direction of Portuguese 
trade had been definitely diverted from Great 
Britain to Germany, and only time was wanting 
to ensure the political current's, setting the 
same way. 

Meanwhile the Monarchy, dependent as it 
was upon the warring fragments of the old 
parties for its existence, was with them tottering 
to its fall. Two of Senhor Luciano de Castro's 
former lieutenants, Senhores Campos H.enriques 
and Sebastiao Telles, had already attempted 

unsuccessfully the task of government. A third, 
the veteran Senhor Beirao, after some 20 days' 
conferring, succeeded in collecting a really 
promising Government, including many of the 
younger, better, and abler elements of the old 
Progressist party. If any Government could 
have saved the Monarchy, this might well have 
done it. But the Dissidents and the Opposition, 
who by their organized obstruction in the 
Chamber had already overthrown four Govern- 
ments in 22 months, were relentless. Their 
obstruction led the Premier to ask for a 
dissolution. The young King refused, and by 
his refusal destroyed his only chance of weather- 
ing the storm. The " Block," of Regeneradors 
and Dissidents, under Senhor Teixeira de Sousa, 
entered office, powerless to secure a stable 
majority either in the Parliament or the country. 
The Progressist majority, bitterly resentful of 
the manner in which they had been expelled 
from power by the King's refusal of the dis- 
solution, which he had perforce granted to their 
rivals, when they had for the most part only 
accepted office with reluctance and at consider- 
able sacrifice, now looked on with folded arms 
while Court and Crown were swept away in 
Revolution. Yet in those last days, before the 
crash, while the friends of the Monarchy, dimly 
conscious of impending ruin, were turning now 
hither, now thither, for support, there were 
begun certain noteworthy negotiations which 
were later to bear fruit. 

Before King Carlos's death, negotiations 
had been on foot for arranging as to the early 
marriage of his heir, the Crown Prince. The 
tragic death of the latter and King Manoel's 
accession naturally resulted in directing atten- 
tion to the question of the succession. At the 
time of the young King's visit to England, 
in May of 1910, rumours had been rife as to a 
projected English marriage. But just as 
Senhor Wenceslau de Lima, disappointed in 
securing the support of Great Britain for his 
commercial schemes, had turned to Germany, 
so now did Senhor Jose de Azevedo Castello 
Branco, Foreign Minister of the new Regenera- 
dor-Dissident " Block," the last effort of the 
dying Monarchy, in the matter of the young 
King's marriage. Negotiations were already 
on foot for ensuring German support for the 
tottering throne when the Revolution of 
October 5, 1910, put an abrupt end to the 

The Monarchy fell, and the proclamation of 
the Republic on October 5, 1910, interrupted 

Marching through the streets of Lisbon. 

The Review at the Palace of Belem. 






Students presenting themselves to the authorities 

at Lisbon. 

those German schemes which would have 
meant the throwing of the political, no less 
than the commercial, weight into the scale 
against the Entente Powers. 

The Provisional Government of the Republic 
was noteworthy in many ways. It represented 
much of what was strongest and soundest in 
the new regime. Its work has met with much 
merited and unmerited criticism. But little 
allowance has in general been made for the 
difficult conditions with which it was called 
upon to deal. Called to reform where reform 
was much needed, it is accused of excess. 
This was to be expected. Its anti-clerical policy 
has been characterized as persecution. It 
was, as were very many of the acts of this 
Government, primarily a measure of defence. 
For the truth is that, from the first week of its 
existence, the Republic never ceased to be 
attacked, not only by all those warring elements 
which by their rival ambitions had destroyed 
the Monarchy, not only from within, but from 
abroad, by a circle of powerful interests of 
many kinds — clerical, Monarchical, financial, 
and international. Thus the Republic's first 
six years' existence were chequered by two 
armed incursions from over the Spanish 
frontier, necessitating the mobilization for 
months together of large military and naval 
forces, together with a series of industriously 

fomented internal risings, strikes, and threat- 
ened military movements, now in the capital 
and now in the country. The Republic's 
attitude toward the foreign religious orders, 
and more particularly the Jesuits, was inevit- 
able. These Orders, with rare exceptions, 
had entered by Court influence against the law 
of the land. Their political influence was great. 
Naturally, that influence was devoted to 
increasing the power of the Throne and of the 
Church. The clerical question, as has been 
seen, existed in acute form under the Monarchy. 
It was no creation of the Republic. 

In Portugal the decay of the national church 
resulted in the natural preponderance of the 
foreign orders. They, relying primarily upon 
the Court, were from the first the enemies of 
the Republic, and throughout the world have 
been its bitterest foes. Self-defence dictated 
the expulsion of the Orders in the first weeks 
of the Provisional Government. It is to be 
regretted that politics rather than policy 
should have stamped the Law for the Separa- 
tion of the Church, with which Dr. Affonso 
Costa followed it later on. Such a measure, 
involving the entire question of the relations 
of Church and State, together with the 

In training. 




- T.s ';'' 


subtle claims of the individual conscience, 
is one to tax the genius of any statesman. 
Cromwell, Napoleon, and Gladstone alike 
tried the task, with but partial success. It is 
certain that no measure of the kind would have 
given content. To Affonso Costa's law, far 
more than to any deep love for the Monarchy, 
the Republic owed the second armed incursion, 
and very much of the subsequent opposition 
which it met. 

Three groups had already begun to take form 
in opinion, the Press, and the country, before 
the work of the Provisional Government came 
to a close, in 1011, with the election of the 
Congress and the first President, Senhor Manuel 
d'Arriaga. These three groups centred around 
Dr. Affonso Costa, the leader of the Democrats ; 
Dr. Antonio Jose d' Almeida, chief of the 
Evolutionists ; and Dr. Brito Camacho, the 
head of the Unionists. These three parties, 
with a few Independents, under Senhor Machado 
Santos, one of the naval heroes of the Revolu- 
tion, and one or two Socialists, made up the 
Congress. This Congress of 1911 was frankly 
an " amateur " Parliament. From it, natur- 
ally, the old governing classes were, as a whole, 
excluded. From its successor, as from the 
regime, they with few exceptions held studiedly 

The first regularly constituted Republican 

Governments, those of Senhor Joao Chagas, 
Dr. Augustos de Vasconcellos, and Dr. Duarte 
Leite, represented only the temporary enforced 
union of these three groups in defence of the 
regime, before the organization of new poli- 
tical parties capable of governing. This union 
was imposed on the Republic by the Royalist 
incursions, which entered the country from 
Spain in 1911 and again in 1912. Both met 
with absolute defeat, as also did the third and 
"most serious and deeply laid" movement, 
that of October 21, 1913. This result was due, 
first, to the political instinct which imposed 
the union of all the groups of the Republic 
in its defence ; and, secondly, to the new 
organization of the army begun by Major 
Baretto, Minister of War in the Provisional 

Apart from defence, these three Governments 
are to be remembered as having continued the 
honest work of Senhor Carlos Relvas, Minister 
of Finance of the Provisional Government. He 
and his successors, Dr. Duarte Leite, Dr. 
Sidonio Paes, and Senhor Antonio Vincente 
Ferreira, sought to place before the country 
the real facts of the financial situation, bad as 
it was, especially as aggravated by the great 
expenses entailed by the enforced mobilization 
for months together of large forces for defence. 
Their work was followed in January, 1913, 



















by that of Dr. Affonso Costa, the Democratic- 
chief, who entered at the head of the first 
organized party Government of the Republic. 
He found the Treasury burdened with an enor- 
mous debt, the result of the accumulated 
chronic deficits of a generation. He was him- 
self faced by an estimated deficit of 9,000 
contos (some £1,800,000). Assuming himself 
the post of Minister of Finance, he bent all the 
powers of the State to the task of converting 
this chronic deficit into a surplus. His adminis- 
tration during the six months from then to 
June marks a really great effort to deal with 
what had been the most pressing problem for 
the nation for 50 years. To have converted 
the chronic deficit of over a generation into 
even a problematic surplus was much indeed. 
His victory at the autumn by-elections was 
a foregone conclusion. Hitherto he had been 
loyally supported by the Unionists under 
Dr. Brito Camacho, the Opposition being 
formed by the Evolutionists under Dr. Antonio 
Jose d' Almeida, and the Independents under 
Senhor Machado Santos. Much hung upon 
these elections. A Democratic victory at the 
polls would render Dr. Affonso Costa inde- 
pendent in the lower Chamber, and would 
virtually decide the approaching General and 
Presidential elections, and mean the consequent 
indefinite exclusion of the Opposition from 

The Democratic victory proved to be a 
sweeping one, and the Unionists, indignant at 
the scant consideration shown them by their 
former allies, joined with the Opposition to 
force Costa's retirement. The cooperation 
of the two most capable heads of the Republic 
was at an end. Meanwhile Dr. Bernardino 
Machado, Minister of Foreign Affairs in the 
Provisional Government, and the Democratic 
candidate at the first Presidential election, 
had returned from Brazil, where he had repre- 
sented the Republic. To him was entrusted 
the task of forming an extra-party Govern- 
ment. This was in February, 1914. Less 
daring, decided, and rapid in action than 
Affonso Costa, he was possessed of imper- 
turbable courtesy, subtlety and patience, 
great powers of work and of persuasion. Costa 
made friends or enemies. Dr. Bernardino 
Machado was prepared to use either. He was as 
keen and polished as a Toledo blade, elastic 
and penetrating, if not strong. He was 
Prime Minister when the war broke out. 
He soon became President of the Republic. 

The outbreak of hostilities in Europe thus 
found Portugal still a Republic, in spite of the 
numerous attempts to overtlirow the r6gime by 
force. These had differed considerably. The 
first incursion in 1911 had been mainly to 
reinstate King Manoel. The second was rather 
on behalf of the Church, and its authors were 
divided, some favouring Manoel, and others 
Dom Miguel, the representative of the old 
Absolutist line, who had been living in Austria 
and was in close touch with the Austrian Court. 
This party had continued to gather strength 
through the influence of the clerical party, who 
ever more whole-heartedly advocated German 
" discipline " and Austrian absolutism in 
Church and State, in opposition to the free 
Parliamentary institutions of Great Britain and 
France. They were in close sympathy with 
the old Carlist — the modern Jaymist — party in 
Spain, the declared enemy of both France and 
England. The third and most dangerous 
movement against the Republic — that of 
October 21, 1913 — was in the main their work. 
Thus the long duel between clericals and anti- 
clericals continued, though its character had 
changed. Victorious in arms, the Republic 
had now turned against it the same weapons 
as had served to wreck the Monarchy. Those 
self-same dissentient forces which by their 
campaign of intrigue and suggestion had suc- 
ceeded in destroying five out of the six Govern- 
ments of King Manoel, and had brought down 
the Monarchy itself, were united to foment 
division among the different Republican groups. 
In the words of President Arriaga's book, " Na 
Primeira Presidencia da Republica Portuguesa," 
". . . these differences were aggravated by the 
clever, disloyal and terrible war carried on by 
reactionaries of all kinds, and principally by 
the religious reaction, a war of all such as felt 
themselves wounded in their legitimate or 
illegitimate rights by the overthrow of the 
Monarchist regime." 

This campaign bade fair to be successful . The 
Republic, which had resisted armed force and 
continual internal unrest, seemed likely in the 
beginning of 1914 to fall a victim to the bitter- 
ness of the contending parties. The Unionists 
had continued to gather strength during their 
alliance with the Democrats in 1913, under the 
patriotic leadership of Dr. Brito Camacho, who 
had made it his first aim to combat the Govern- 
mental instability which had proved the ruin 
of the Monarchy. The election of the autumn 
converted this party into the bitter foes of the 




Government- Fearless and able.. Dr. Brito 
Camacho had the fame of a dour hater. He 
had shown loyalty in his alliance with Affonso 
Costa. The practical annihilation of his party 
in the elections was a wound which was not 
likely soon to heal. It already bore bitter 
fruit in the bloody Revolution of May 14, 1915. 
The junction of the Unionist and Evolutionist 
groups in January of 1914 forced Affonso 
Costa to retire, and thus it was in Portugal, 
as in Italy and in Sjiain, that the Govern- 
ment called upon to decide the attitude of 
the nation with regard to the war was an 
avowedly temporary transitional body, in this 
case an extra-party aggregation, only called 
into power owing to the extraordinary rancour 
shown by the parties, for the purpose of 
" accalmation " and the conducting of the 
coming elections. The Government entered 
office irregularly. In its composition it was 
as irregular as in the circmnstances attending 
its entrance into power. It consisted not alone 
of Republicans, but of both old Monarchists 
and Dissidents. The men composing it were, 
for the most part, non-party and unques- 
tionably able men. No great evidence of 
division in the Cabinet marked its early months 
of power. With the outbreak of the war in 
Europe, there early became apparent the 

existence of two distinct currents of opinion 
in the Government, which did much to in- 
fluence not alone the actual policy of the 
nation, but the whole trend of feeling in the 

But, it may be asked, What has this to do 
with the war ? It has everything. Germany 
had been very busy in Portugal. 

The outbreak of hostilities came as a shock 
to all Europe. Yet in those early weeks of 
August and September which witnessed the 
invasion of Belgium, there existed a far less 
vivid realisation of what the war meant in 
the minds of the average Londoner than in 
Lisbon. The Englishman shaken out of his 
cherished peace, yet serenely certain that 
" we shall win," went quietly about his work — 
when he did riot enlist — and left the necessary 
steps to be taken to the Government. The 
Portuguese, knowing well the unresting efforts 
of the Germans in his own land, as contrasted 
with the- easy indifference of the British, 
gauged things differently. Great Britain never 
dreamed of involving other nations, and 
sought, if possible, to limit the area of the 
conflict. Portugal, like all the Peninsula, 
knew that this meant the beginning of a fight 
to a finish, and, remembering all her past 



history, counted on being called in, and that 
at once. 

Now Germany was prepared for this. Not 
only, as the result of bitter and carefully 
fomented party strife, was the Government 
flung temporarily into the hands of a non- 
colour mixed administration, but in those first 
days and weeks of the war the barracks were 
sown with anonymous leaflets against Por- 
tugal's participation in the war, while it was 
sought to enlist officers, journalists, and 
politicians on behalf of a policy of neutrality. 
What, in this crisis, was the action of the 
Portuguese Government ? On August 4 Great 
Britain declared war. On August 7, at a 
specially convoked meeting of the Cortes, the 
whole Legislature, following the lead of the 
Prime Minister, declared for the unconditional 
support of the Allies, and passed, without one 
dissentient vote, a motion empowering the 
Government to maintain order in the country 
and to take such financial and economic 
measures as circumstances might demand. 

The motion, studiedly general and non- 
committal in tone, as drafted by the Prime 
Minister, Dr. Bernardino Machado, was ac- 
cepted unanimously by an enthusiastic Cortes, 
as the preliminary step -to a policy of active 
support of the Allies. The speakers, the 
leaders of all the parties, vied with each other 
in paying tributes to Great Britain and France. 
Great crowds marched cheering through the 
streets to demonstrate before the British, 
French, Russian, Belgian, and Serbian Lega- 
tions. The newspapers wrote for the most 
part with sympathy and many with enthusiasm. 
To understand what followed, it is necessary 
to know something of the constitution of the 
Ministry. Portuguese politics during the 
first two years of war fall logically into two 
parts, coinciding with the Presidencies of Dr. 
Manuel d'Arriaga and Dr. Bernardino Machado, 
separated by the sanguinary episode of the 
Bevolution of May 14, 1915, and the brief 
Presidential interregnum under Dr. Theophilo 
Braga which followed it. The Government 
in power when the war broke out was that of 
Dr. Bernardino Machado. It was, as has been 
said, a mixed and an extra-party Ministry, 
its members being drawn 'from outside either 
Df the recognized parliamentary parties. It 
had entered on office in February, 1914, but 
six months before the war. It started as an 
administration of non-party politicians to 
maintain a governmental truce, as a Ministry 

of " conciliation," and to preside over the 
coming elections with impartiality. Its 
entrance was the direct result of the personal 
action of the then President, Dr. Arriaga, in 
conjunction with the Opposition. 

It was on January 24, 1914, that the union 
of the Unionists, under Dr. Brito Camacho, 
with the Evolutionist Opposition, in conjunc- 
tion with the action of the President, resulted 
in the resignation of the then Democratic 
Government of Dr. Affonso Costa. The junc- 
tion of Dr. Brito Camacho with the Opposition 
altered the whole political balance. Dr. 
Costa had held office since January, 1913, 
as chief of the first definitely party Govern- 
ment under the Republic. He had been 
supported originally by Dr. Brito Camacho, 
who had consistently supported the previous 
Governments with a view to preventing the 
continuance of that instability which had 
destroyed the Monarchy. The sweeping victory 
of the Democrats in the. November by-elections, 
coupled with the approach of the General 
and Presidential elections in 1915, converted 
him into the Government's bitterest enemy. 
In the Provisional Government Dr. Brito 
Camacho had proved himself one of the most 
able men of the Republic. Resourceful, 
clear-headed, and fearless, his junction with 
the Opposition altered the whole political 
balance. Able as Dr. Affonso Costa's adminis- 
tration had unquestionably been, from January 
to June of 1913, it had been thoroughly 
partisan in character. At the time of his 
resignation, on January 24, 1914, probably 
no man in Portugal — not even Jo So Franco 
at the time of his fall — was better hated than 
was Dr. Affonso Costa. The Monarchists 
hated and feared him as their ablest enemy. 
The Church hated him as being the man who 
had expelled the Jesuits and the Religious 
Orders, and carried through the law for the 
Separation of Church and State. The capitalist 
class feared the extension of his social pro- 
gramme. The Socialists and Syndicalists hated 
him for his forced repression of their centres 
in 1913. His Republican rivals feared his 
retention of power until the forthcoming 
General: and Presidential elections as meaning 
their own indefinite exclusion from office. 

Failing to overthrow the Ministry in the 
Cortes, the Opposition now had recourse to the 
President, Dr. Arriaga. He, led by the vain hope 
of preventing a yet more serious struggle 
between the parties, and lured by the, dream of 



securing a real and permanent peace for his 
country, on January 24, 1914, wrote a circular 
letter to the leaders of the Government and the 
Opposition. In this letter he invited their co- 
operation in the formation of a new Ministry 
to carry out a special programme, which he 
outlined. This aimed at a national pacifica- 
tion. Its main proposals were three — a full 
political amnesty, the revision of the law for 
the Separation of the Church, and provision 
for the free conduct of an unbiassed General 
Election. By the political amnesty the Presi- 
dent hoped to satisfy the Monarchists, by the 
revision of the Law of Separation to content 
the Church, and by a non-party election to 
pacify the Opposition. 

President Arriaga's aims, as set forth in this 
letter, were undoubtedly of the best. But thus 
to address an invitation to the leaders of the 
Opposition to cooperate for the carrying into 
effect of a personal Presidential programme, 
not only without the prior agreement of his 
Government, but, as in the present instance, 
against their express advice, was a most serious 
step to take. It was, as the Prime Minister, 
Dr. Affonso Costa, pointed out, an absolutely 
unconstitutional act. Together with certain 
sentences in the President's letter, it appeared 
to imply censure on the Government. Dr. 
Costa, in view of the President's insistence on 
sending this letter in spite of his remonstrance, 
tendered his resignation and that of his Govern- 
ment. Thus it was that on February 10, 
1914, Dr. Bernardino Maehado, who had been 
entrusted by President Arriaga with the forma- 
tion of an extra-party Government of " con- 
ciliation," entered office. 

The new Government began well. On 

February 10 it took office. By February 23 

it had passed a most ample political amnesty, 

releasing at once all the Monarchist prisoners 

who had been arrested in connection with the 

incursions of 1911, 1912, and the internal 

movements of the previous April and October. 

In the words of President Arriaga, in his book, 

" Na Primeira Presidencia da Republica Portu- 

gueza," already quoted : 

Some of the salutary effects of the change were already 
evident ; greater quiet was to be noted in political debate, 
both within and without the Parliament. The famous 
cordiality of the leader of the Government, which, not- 
withstanding the irony with which it has been referred 
to, can never be too great in a new-born regime where 
fresh social orders are called upon to take part in the 
public administration, had been clearly salutary. 

Then came the war. 

It has been seen that the decision of the 





whole Cortes, led by the Government, was 
taken promptly. How, then, did it come about 
that not till March, 1916, some twenty months 
later, did Germany — not Portugal — declare 
war and recall her Minister ? How, too, 
despite reiterated offers of assistance to the 
Allies, first on August 7, 1914, later at a 
second specially convoked session of the 
Cortes on November 23, and again by the 
succeeding Government in December of the 
same year, had the Portuguese attitude re- 
mained so undecided as seemed to be the case ? 

First, because the unanimous vote of the 
Cortes on August 7, 1914, merely signified 
the general desire of all parties to secure 
themselves by declared adhesion to the tradi- 
tional policy of the British Alliance, while it 
tied no one to the acceptance of any definite 
line of action, all responsibility being dele- 
gated to the Government. The Prime Minister's 
action in convoking the Cortes was an emi- 
nently political one. His attitude, deter- 
mined apparently no less by the internal 
situation than by considerations of foreign 
policy, carried with it the approval of the 
entire Cortes. Unanimous so far as the Republic 
was concerned, it awoke instant response 
abroad. The Monarchist leaders, recognising 
its importance, hastened to offer their personal 
support to the Government. King Manoel made 
offer of his service to King George. The 
Prime Minister had scored. 

But the unity which Dr. Bernardino Machado 
had apparently evoked on behalf of his pro- 

Ally policy was not fated to continue. For 
the unity which marked the session of August 7 
was but superficial, while the roots of division 
were deep. The political sentiment of the mass 
was pro-British, intellectually the sympathies 
of perhaps more were actively French — for all 
the Latin world had learned much of France. 
There the unity ended. The personal bitterness 
which separated the party leaders was real. 
No line of action which was suggested by one 
was likely to meet with common support. 
This the enemy well knew. The Prime 
Minister knew well, also, the many currents 
among which he was called upon to steer. 
His speech was definitely pro-Ally. The 
motion he submitted to the vote was studiously 
non-committal and unprovocative, while con- 
ceding him full power to act. 

Unquestionably his convocation of the Cortes 
was intended to arouse such sympathy at home 
and such a response abroad as should strengthen 
his hands. It was in a measure successful, as 
we have seen. The current was set definitely 
in the direction of active intervention on behalf 
of the Allies. Not one voice in the Parliament 
or the Press was then raised in contradiction. 

It must be remembered that this was still in 
the first week of the war. The attitude of 
Great Britain, France, Russia, Belgium, Serbia, 
and Japan was already known. The action of 
the mass of lesser European nations still re- 
mained undecided. That policy of ambiguous 
neutrality which injured the Allies only less 
than war had not yet crystallized into fact. 




Those manifold considerations of trade and 
material interest which were later to play so 
great a part in the decision had not yet made 
themselves felt. All the liberty-loving elements 
of the peoples in Italy, Spain, Holland, Den- 
mark, and the Balkans were clearly with the 
Allies. A lead was wanted, and a clear lead. 
But that lead did not come. 

The Allies, Great Britain above all, were 
militarily unprepared. Diplomatically they 
were yet more unprepared. It is certain that 
the crash found the moral sympathy of the 
world on their side — in part owing to that very 
fact. That proved to be a great factor, ft 
would have proved infinitely greater had 
prompt decision grasped the immense value 
of the moment and of a clear issue. A really 
national response on the part of Great Britain 
and France to what was in truth a national 
lead would have meant much in Portugal 
and beyond it. Response there was, but tardy 
tnd unconvincing. The occasion passed. In 
Great Britain, as a whole, there existed no 
rudimentary idea, of the vastness and thorough- 
ness of German preparation in other countries. 
Xo;- did politicians realize, in their insular 
ignorance, that Turkey, Greece, Spain, and the 
Balkans " mattered " ! 

Meanwhile, in Portugal, the Government 
did not content themselves with mere demon- 
strations. There was no contemporary publi- 
cation of the negotiations which took place 
between the two Governments, but everything 
would go to show that, though much may have 
been wanting, as was but natural, in the way 
of preparation and supplies, goodwill to serve 
the Allies was not wanting, in spite of all 
Germany's years of work. 

The first practical evidence of this was the 
prompt signature on August 12 of the long- 
delayed Treaty of Commerce with Great 
Britain, which only came finally into force on 
September 23, 191(i. The history of the Treaty 
is that of all British action in recent years. 
We have seen hew rapidly Germany secured 
the Treaty which in less than half a dozen years 
had well nigh secured her commercial and 
political predomii ance in both Portugal and 
Portuguese Africa. This she got because she 
knew what she wanted, a desideratum which 
has been often lacking when Great Britain has 
been concerned. On November 12, 1914, a 
special Commercial Mission visited Great 
Britain to treat of means for increasing Anglo- 
Portuguese trade. This Mission owed its 
initiation to the action of the British Chamber 



of Commerce in Portugal, seconded by the 
British Minister in Lisbon, Sir Lancelot Carnegie. 
Yet more significant was the Government's 
prompt dispatch of military expeditions to 
Angola and Mozambique. On August 7, the 
very day of the unanimous declaration in the 
Cortes, the British Imperial Government had 
telegraphed to General Botha, in reply to the 
South African Government's offer to release 
the garrison of loyal troops in the Dominion for 
service elsewhere. The Home Government 
then suggested that the occupation of " such 
parts of German South-West Africa as would 
give them the command of Swakopmund, 
Luderitzbucht, and the wireless stations there 
or in the interior," would be regarded as " a 
great and urgent Imperial service." This 
telegram was reinforced by a second on August 9 
urging the capture also of the long-distance 
wireless station at Windhuk, "as of great 
importance," while recognising that these 
objects could " only be effected in reasonable 
time by a joint naval and military expedition 
up the coast." On August 10 General Botha 
telegraphed the decision of his Government 
to undertake a military expedition into German 
South-West Africa, in co-operation with the 
British Government. It was not till Septem- 
ber 9, however, that he publicly announced 
the decision of the South African Government 
to undertake this expedition, an announcement 

followed almost at once by the defection of 
Beyers and Maritz. 

Meanwhile, on August 17, the Portuguese 
Ministor for the Colonies had demanded from 
the Minister of War troops for military expedi- 
tions to be sent to Angola and Mozambique — 
colonies adjoining German South-West and 
German East Africa, and on September 11, 
only two days after the decision of the South 
African Government had been announced, 
the two expeditions sailed from Lisbon on 
board the Mozambique and the Durham 
Castle. The expeditions were commanded 
by Major Rocadas and Major Amorim, two 
Colonial officers of high standing. These first 
expeditions were rapidly followed up by other 
forces. On October 1 330 infantry sailed on 
board the Africa to reinforce the garrison of 
Mossamedes. On October 20 telegrams re- 
ported an engagement with German trooiDS on 
the southern frontier of Angola. On the 29th 




[Elliott S- Fry. 

British Minister at Lisbon. 

a battalion of marines was placed at the 
disposal of the Colonial Office for service in 
Africa, sailing on November 5 on board the 
Beira, under the command of Capt. Lieut. 
Coriolanus da Costa, for Angola. December 1 
saw the first instalment of a further expedi- 
tionary force of mounted troops leave for Africa 
on board the Cabo Verde. On December 3 
the third battalion of the 17th Infantry, with 
artillery, also left for Angola, on board the 
steamships Peninsula and Ambaca. On Decem- 
ber 10 a further battalion of the 17th Infantry 
sailed on board the Africa, also for Angola. 
Dr. Bernardino Machado gave in his resignation 
and that of his Ministry to the President on 
December 5. On December 11 the Govern- 
ment left office. 

To this event it is certain that internal 
questions contributed, questions particularly 
connected with the relations of the two Houses 
of Parliament and with the coming elections. 
But behind these purely internal matters, 

deeper and more important than all there 
remained " the English question," and, in- 
timately connected with it, that of Portugal's 
participation or non-participation in the war. 
The truth is that, ever since the first outbreak 
of hostilities in Europe, this question had in 
reality dwarfed all else, particularly after the 
originally decided action taken at the historic 
meeting of the Cortes on August 7. For that 
action was no less a direct challenge to Ger- 
many than a deliberate a]3peal to Great Britain. 
By placing themselves and the nation on the 
side of the Allies, the Government at once drew 
down upon themselves the unresting attacks of 
the entire pro-German section of Portuguese 

Everywhere Germany had a definite policy. 
No administration that had favoured her 
but had been supported, and had had its way 
made easier and smoother internally, and often 
more profitable externally. No administration , 
on the other hand, dared to favour the Allies 
but it found itself involved in a maze of internal 
and external difficulties — strikes, food riots, 
party rivalries assuming a bitterness and ex- 
tension beyond the normal. The raising of 
religious and sectarian questions was de- 
liberately and persistently employed by Ger- 
many in every part of Europe, and not least 
in Portugal. It is not surprising, then, that, in 
spite of the first unanimous vote, and even by 
reason of it, the Government early found 
themselves face to face with grave divisions 
alike in the country, the Cortes, and the 

It is clear that Dr. Bernardino Machado 
sought by the meetln ; of August 7 to obtain 
strength from the united support of the Cortes 
and the country in Portugal, and abroad from 
the countenance of the Allies. This fact is 
evident in almost every act of his administra- 
tion. We see it in the enthusiastic receptions 
accorded to the officers of a British warship 
which paid an unexpected visit to Lisbon on 
September 28, 1914 — the first visit of the kind 
since the establishment of the Republic, as all 
Portugal was quick to observe. So, too, it is 
clear in the similarly hearty welcome given 
to the officers and crew of a French warship 
which entered the Tagus on October 4 to 
compliment the Republic on the anniversary 
of its institution ; and in the repeated de- 
monstrations on behalf of the Allies before 
the various legations. Most evident of all 
is it in the Premier's adoption and decided 

Sappers preparing a trench. 





Portuguese Caval 

and persistent support of the Democratic 
policy, advocating the immediate dispatch 
of a special Portuguese contingent to take 
part with Great Britain and France in the 
European 6eld of war. 

This proposal it was that very early gave 
rise to definite division among the three Re- 
publican parties in the Cabinet, and — as is 
evident from President Arriaga's book — be- 
tween the President and the Prime Minister 
themselves. However originally proposed, the 
suggestion was adopted by the Democrats, 
and, as is certain, by the Prime Minister. 
This gave rise to rapid and ever-widening 
differences with the other parties, the Evolu- 
tionists and the Unionists. All claimed to be 
alike pro-Ally. All announced themselves ready 
to respond to any lead from Great Britain. 
But Great Britain gave no obvious lead, and 
neither of them was prepared to accept that of 
Senhor Affonso Costa. By the uncertainty 
existing as to Great Britain's real wishes in the 
matter, way was opened for endless campaigns 
and recrimination, and the public feeling which 
had marked the original action of the Govern- 
ment was dangerously divided and damped, to 
the sole advantage of Germany. Sincere and 
disinterested partisans of the Allies, as were 
Dr. Brito Camacho and his colleagues of the 
Luc'.a, became the bitterest of opponents of 
active participation in the war, as forming 
the central feature of the Democratic pro- 
gramme. No party dared frankly to oppose 
any action taken ostensibly on behalf of Great 


ry fording a river. 

Britain. All, therefore, concurred in speaking 
and voting in favour of the Allies. But all the 
sections, Republican and Monarchist, sought 
to prevent their rivals from profiting by such 
support and to frustrate whatever action they 
might suggest. Thus, long before the three 
months that separated the passing of the two 
votes of August 7 and November 23, what had 
been, despite party differences, something like 
a national response to a really national lead 
on the part of the Government had been 
whittled down into a narrow and bitterly 
contested party issue. This was further sub- 
ordinated to a multitude of wholly internal 
and party interests, of which the elections 
formed the principal. 

Meanwhile it became clear that the Cabinet 
was no more united than were the parties. The 
Prime Minister clearly leaned toward the full 
Democratic programme for Portugal's active 
intervention in the war. The Minister of 
Marine, Senhor Neuparth, and the Minister for 
Foreign Affairs, Colonel Freire d'Andrade, 
held that Portugal should await the invitation 
of her Ally. Thus the Prime Minister's speech 
on August 7 was for unreserved support 
of the British Alliance and of the Allies. On 
the 1. 8th of the same month the Foreign Minister, 
in company with the Director-General of his 
Ministry and his Secretary, called personally 
at the Austrian Legation to compliment the 
Austrian Minister on the birthday of the 
Emperor. Naturally the act provoked criti- 
cism, as did certain definite orders for main- 



taining neutrality given by the Minister of 
Marine and of the Colonies. Somewhat later a 
reference by the Foreign Minister to " two 
friendly nations," made in reply to a special 
deputation which had visited him with a 
collective message of protest against the bar- 
barities committed by the Germans in Belgium, 
occasioned even greater offence. 

This was the greater seeing that without 
question Colonel Freire d'Andrade was one of 
the strong men of the Government. His 
original entrance into the Cabinet had occa- 
sioned much bitter criticism on the part of the 
Monarchists, and not a little talk in other 
circles. It had added much to the prestige of 
the Government, for in colonial circles Freire 
d'Andrade's position was unique. During his 
long-continued term of office in Africa, as 
Governor of Lorenzo Marques and later of 
Mozambique, he had secured the trust of the 
Colony and the Home Government. So much 
was this the case that, though appointed by 
Joao Franco in 1906, on the fall of his Govern- 
ment he had been continued in office through 
all the six Governments of King Manoel's reign 
and after the P^evolution retained by the 

Republic. He had been the negotiator of the 
Treaty with the South African I'nion, and was 
held to be British in sympathy. He had won a 
reputation as a successful colonial adminis- 
trator, not alone in Portugal, but in both British 
and German colonial circles. The Colonies were 
also strongly represented in the person of 
Senhor Lisboa de Lima. The action of the 
Foreign Minister did much to give colour to the 
rumours, diligently spread abroad, that, far 
from supporting Portugal in an attitude of 
belligerency, Great Britain had from the first 
favoured her maintaining a policy of neutrality. 
The question was directly raised by Lieut. 
Leotte de P^ego, a prominent naval officer and 
one of the leading spirits in the Revolution of 
May 14, who, in a series of outspoken articles in 
the Press, followed by public addresses, con- 
tinued to urge the Government to adopt a clear 
and active policy in support of the Allies, and 
the sending of a force to France. First cen- 
sured, he was later imprisoned, by order of the 
Minister of Marine, for breach of discipline. In 
his imprisonment, as in his propaganda, he 
received no support from British circles, which 
continued to hold themselves as far as possible 


350 ' 



aloof from association with Portuguese political 

It was during this Government that the 
proposals for the formation of a Portuguese 
contingent to assist the Allies in France took 
definite form. As early as August this had been 
foreshadowed in the Press. Senhor Joao 
Chagas, the Portuguese Minister in Paris, was 
credited with being their active advocate. 
On October 1 an unofficial notice in the Seculo 
stated that requests for artillery had been 
received from Great Britain. This the Minister 
of War, a thorough soldier, objected to sending, 
except with their complement of men. This 
had led to the request for the dispatch of a 
regular force of all arms, which the Government 
took immediate steps to furnish. Orders for 
the mobilization were published. On October 18 
a special Military Mission sailed for England to 
confer with Lord Kitchener as to the action to 
be taken. Decrees nominating the Commandant 
and Staff and fixing the composition of the 
force had been issued, and on October 19 the 
Portuguese Minister in Madrid, as the result of 
telegraphic instructions from Lisbon, had duly 
intimated to the Spanish Government Por- 
tugal's entrance on belligerency, when, on the 
night of October 20, Monarclust risings in 
Mafra and other parts of the country occurred. 
The railway and the telegraphic lines were 
interrupted and the mobilization was brought 
temporarily to a standstill. 

The risings proved absolutely abortive, 
though the interruptions occasioned in various 
parts of the country in evident collusion 
pointed to a widespread conspiracy. Those 
directly implicated were in several cases 
Monarchist conspirators connected with the 
incursions of 1911, 1912, and the rising of 
October 23, 1913, amongthem figuring certain of 
those only amnestied by this same Government 
on February 23. 

Though interrupted in their preparations, 
the Government, far from desisting, on Novem- 
ber 23 convoked a second special session of the 
Cortes, to hear read the definite invitation of 
Great Britain for Portugal to take part with 
her in the war. Hitherto it had been generally 
understood that, while France was ready and 
anxious for Portugal's active cooperation, 
Great Britain doubted its immediate ex- 
pediency. That objection was now to be re- 
moved. A clear call, as later in the case 
for the utilization of the German ships, would 
have done much to sweep away opposition 
and to strengthen the pro-British section of 
the Republican party for its difficult task. 
The courteous, but subdued and somewhat 
ambiguously worded, message was again 
received with favourable speeches and a unani- 
mous vote, but the enthusiasm that had 
characterized the original session had gone, and 
the vote gave little real strength to the Govern- 
ment. Orders were published next day for the 
mobilization of a new division. Again its com- 
position had been determined and the command 
decided on, when renewed difficulty in the 
Chamber and, as it would seem, divergence of 
views in the Cabinet and with the President 
led Dr. Bernardino Machado, on December 5, 
to hand in his resignation. That he in no way 
drew back from the policy which he had 
maintained, despite the temporary nature of 
his Government and the divisions in the Cortes 
and the Cabinet, is evidenced by the publication 
on December 7, 1914, of an Army Order of 
November 23, not only appointing the Com- 
mandant and Staff for the new Division, but 
even providing for such details as the identifica- 
tion discs to be worn by the troops to serve in 
Burope. So for the second time were the plans 
for the participation of a Portuguese con- 
tingent in the war frustrated. 

On the fall of the Government of Dr. 
Bernardino Machado all semblance of truce 
between the parties came to an end. The new 
Government, under the leadership of Senhor 



Victor Hugo de Azevedo Coutinho, the former 
President of the Chamber, was distinctly 
Democratic. On its first presentation to the 
Cortes, both the Prime Minister and the new 
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Augusto Soares, 
stated the central feature of their policy to be 
the integral fulfilment of those pledges for active 
support of the Allies imderstood to have been 
given to the nation on August 7 and Novem- 
ber 23. A message given by these Ministers at 
this time ran : 

The President and Government of the Republic : 

The programme of the present Government, as laid 
before Congress, is essentially national and non-political, 
•consisting of three principal points : First, the firm and 
■efficacious defence of the realm ; secondly, the resolve to 
■carry out the mandate accorded by Parliament on 
November 23, regarding our participation in the war in 
Europe and wherever else we may be called upon to 
■defend our territories, or fulfil our duties, according to 
the conditions of our alliance with England ; thirdly, 
the holding of general elections as soon as possible. 
Taking into consideration the present financial crisis, it 
is noticeable that the financial situation of the country 
calls for no new taxation, the Government having been 
able hitherto, without a loan, to face the enormous 
-expenses imposed by inevitable necessities. At the 
present moment, grave for all countries, party politics 
have been abandoned by the members of the present 
Cabinet, who accepted office not to satisfy narrow 
ambitions but loyally to serve the nation. The Govern- 
ment, inspired by pure Republican faith, hopes to deserve 
the sympathy and approval of all who desire that the 
nation under the Republic should now resolutely enter 
on the lines of order, labour and progress, thus 
strengthening our internal situation and attracting the 
goodwill of all nations. 

Dr. Soares, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, 

said : 

The principal aim of the present Government consists 
in the loyal fulfilment of the Anglo-Portuguese Treaty. 
That action in this matter, which is considered of the 

■st rongest and most intense interest and which corresponds 
with the sentiment of the Portuguese people, should not 
be diverted by sectarian questions of internal politics. 
The Democratic Party from which the present Govern- 
ment was formed sought by all means the formation of 
a Coalition Cabinet, in which all parties should be 
represented, and only agreed to assume office when all 
attempts to form a Coalition Cabinet failed. The present 
Government, however, immediately bound themselves to 
put aside all reforms and projects of a political nature 
inherent in its party programme, in order to realize only 
those mentioned in the Government programme, and 
this will be carried out. 

But the Government was met with hostile 
demonstrations from its first entrance by the 
entire Opposition. The tension rapidly in- 
creased. On December 15 the Evolutionists, 
Unionists and Independents abandoned the 
Chamber. On the 18th the Unionists col- 
lectively renounced their seats. 

News meanwhile arrived of open hostilities 
in Africa. Before the end of December it was 
known that, on the 18th, the Portuguese 
expedition to Angola, under Major Rocadas, 
had been engaged by a much larger and better 
equipped German force at Naulila, on the 
frontier of Portuguese Angola. There had 
been a four-hours battle, and the Portuguese 
general had been obliged to retire after con- 
siderable losses on both sides in killed and 
wounded, leaving prisoners in the hands of the 
Germans. A charge by the Portuguese 
colonial dragoons, which had suffered much in 
consequence, had averted complete disaster. 
Their commanding officer, Lieut. Aragon, was 
said at first to have been killed ; later he was 
found to have been wounded and made prisoner. 





He was subsequently released by the British 
forces under General Botha, and returned 
home in the following August 

This encounter, like that with General 
Grant's column at Sandfontein, proved the 
Germans to be well prepared in South-West 
Africa, and in far larger number than had at 
first been believed. The revolt of Beyers and 
Maritz had obliged General Botha to put off 
immediate action in German South-West 
Africa while